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Helping community a two-way street

<p>Walter Smith with the New Glasgow Regional Police Department offers Ava Chisholm, centre, and Addison Dunphy a candy cane while he volunteers at the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle at the Atlantic Superstore. The Red Kettle campaign is a large fundraiser for the Salvation Army and will end Thursday.</p>
Sueann Musick – The News
<p>Walter Smith with the New Glasgow Regional Police Department offers Ava Chisholm, centre, and Addison Dunphy a candy cane while he volunteers at the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle at the Atlantic Superstore. The Red Kettle campaign is a large fundraiser for the Salvation Army and will end Thursday.</p> Sueann Musick – The News

NEW GLASGOW – My thoughts were like that of many other people three days before Christmas.

I had work to finish, presents to still buy and wrap, groceries to get, all the while fitting in some family visits. Quite honestly, spending two hours by a Red Kettle for the Salvation Army was not at the top of my priority list.

As I drove to the Atlantic Superstore, I was wondering if they would really miss me if I didn’t show up. Maybe I could stay an hour and make an excuse to leave? The kettle drive is wrapping up anyway, so how busy could it be?

But in the end, I knew the commitment to volunteer was made so it had to be done and thank goodness I listened to my conscience because what I thought was going to be fluffy Christmas piece actually turned into a rewarding two hours.

Most of the credit goes to my co-kettle volunteer Walter Smith, a member of New Glasgow Regional Police Services, who was doing his third shift at the kettle in three days.

“I have never done it in the past. My mom used to do it every day for the whole of the campaign. She was strong believer in the cause so I am here filling in for her since she can’t be here,” he said.

My own selfish thoughts started to fade as I listened to Walter and the pride he had felt volunteering in his mother’s absence. She passed away in June so this was the first time in many years the kettle campaign would be on without her. He said it was she who taught him the value of volunteering and the need to take it seriously.  

“I would stop in and visit her and she would be say, ‘you have to go now’ because I was getting in the way of people wanting to make a donation.”

Walter says he has learned a few things that make a difference when volunteering at the kettle. It’s important to stand, if possible, and speak to people even if they don’t make a donation. He often volunteers at the kettle dressed in his police uniform because it draws attention and gets people to look over rather than staring at the ground.

“They take a double look and wonder what I am doing here,” he said. “They realize I am just watching the kettle and some people give a few dollars if they can. It’s win-win for everyone. We help out the community, we help the Salvation Army and it’s good exposure for the police department.”

Some people drop in money and stop to praise the work of the Salvation Army while others say nothing. He smiles and wishes them all Merry Christmas, brightening their day as well as his own.

“Some people scoop the change in their purse, some give $20 some give $5, whatever people can afford to give, that is what they give.”

Really it’s a two-way street when it comes to volunteering, he said.   People are not only helping their community, but they are helping themselves. Christmas isn’t a favourite time of year for everyone so getting out in the public takes the focus off their own loneliness and stress.

You never know who is going to make your day a little brighter when you offer a bit of yourself to others.

I had work to finish, presents to still buy and wrap, groceries to get, all the while fitting in some family visits. Quite honestly, spending two hours by a Red Kettle for the Salvation Army was not at the top of my priority list.

As I drove to the Atlantic Superstore, I was wondering if they would really miss me if I didn’t show up. Maybe I could stay an hour and make an excuse to leave? The kettle drive is wrapping up anyway, so how busy could it be?

But in the end, I knew the commitment to volunteer was made so it had to be done and thank goodness I listened to my conscience because what I thought was going to be fluffy Christmas piece actually turned into a rewarding two hours.

Most of the credit goes to my co-kettle volunteer Walter Smith, a member of New Glasgow Regional Police Services, who was doing his third shift at the kettle in three days.

“I have never done it in the past. My mom used to do it every day for the whole of the campaign. She was strong believer in the cause so I am here filling in for her since she can’t be here,” he said.

My own selfish thoughts started to fade as I listened to Walter and the pride he had felt volunteering in his mother’s absence. She passed away in June so this was the first time in many years the kettle campaign would be on without her. He said it was she who taught him the value of volunteering and the need to take it seriously.  

“I would stop in and visit her and she would be say, ‘you have to go now’ because I was getting in the way of people wanting to make a donation.”

Walter says he has learned a few things that make a difference when volunteering at the kettle. It’s important to stand, if possible, and speak to people even if they don’t make a donation. He often volunteers at the kettle dressed in his police uniform because it draws attention and gets people to look over rather than staring at the ground.

“They take a double look and wonder what I am doing here,” he said. “They realize I am just watching the kettle and some people give a few dollars if they can. It’s win-win for everyone. We help out the community, we help the Salvation Army and it’s good exposure for the police department.”

Some people drop in money and stop to praise the work of the Salvation Army while others say nothing. He smiles and wishes them all Merry Christmas, brightening their day as well as his own.

“Some people scoop the change in their purse, some give $20 some give $5, whatever people can afford to give, that is what they give.”

Really it’s a two-way street when it comes to volunteering, he said.   People are not only helping their community, but they are helping themselves. Christmas isn’t a favourite time of year for everyone so getting out in the public takes the focus off their own loneliness and stress.

You never know who is going to make your day a little brighter when you offer a bit of yourself to others.

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