Rock the Red Kettle

A couple of years ago, we were walking out of the grocery store at Christmastime. As we passed the Salvation Army bell ringer, my older daughter said, "I want to do that." After making sure she understood that no matter the weather you still rang the bell, I signed us up. It has become a beloved Christmas tradition at our house to go and ring the Salvation Army bell for an hour or two. 

It's never been warm when we've rung the bell. We always seem to get the coldest day of the winter to that point. But we rarely hear complaints and the cold allows us to remind our girls that when we're done we get to go home to a warm house with plenty to eat. Our stint in the cold lasts only an hour or two. Sure, our feet might be frozen and our cheeks rosy by the time we're done, but we know we're going to have a warm place to sleep that night. Many of the people the Salvation Army helps aren't so lucky.

We're always looking for ways to get our kids engaged in serving others. We've found that many times when we go to sign up to serve as a family, our kids are too young. The Salvation Army actually encourages young people to get involved. The Salvation Army is so much more than just those red kettles you see at Christmas. The money they raise goes to help feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, help those recovering from addiction and even provide disaster relief, just to name a few things the organization does.

When we encourage our kids to get involved in serving others, we're following the command Jesus gave His disciples as He washed their feet: "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." (John 13:14-15)

You can encourage your kids to get involved with the Salvation Army through the Salvation Army's Rock the Red Kettle concert on Dec. 7. This free concert featuring Andy Grammer at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City is designed to encourage young people to get involved with serving others, starting with ringing the Salvation Army bell. Concert-goers will be introduced to opportunities to serve in different capacities at the concert, and participating youth will be contacted throughout the year with appropriate opportunities.

Tickets are easy to come by. All you have to do is sign up for a 2-hour shift of bell-ringing to receive floor seating. The first 300 people to raise $100 through an online kettle will receive VIP seating and a private reception. The first 30 people to raise $1,000 through an online kettle will get to attend a meet and greet with Andy Grammer. To sign up to ring, go to

Rock the Red Kettle is a fun way to open your kids' eyes to the volunteer opportunities available to them through the Salvation Army. We'll be there (I got a couple of tickets for offering some publicity through this post, but we'll still be ringing the bell this year), and I hope you will be, too.

But whether you go to the Rock the Red Kettle event or not, get your kids involved in serving others this holiday season.

Don't miss the start of our December series: 25 Days of Giving. We'll look at some fun, easy ways to get your kids focused on giving rather than getting this Christmas season.