Letters to the Editor

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HOLIDAYS: Fond memories of Salvation Army help

Letter by Billie Jean Tilstra, Graham on Dec. 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm with 7 Comments »
December 21, 2011 3:01 pm

When I saw the photo of the Salvation Army bell ringer (TNT, 12-17), it brought back many memories of my childhood days.

My family consisted of an extended family: my mom, grandmother, two young aunts, and my own sister and brothers. We did not have much money, and we never expected too much at Christmas time. But every Christmas, without fail, the knock came on the door and, lo and behold, there was a basket filled with all kinds of goodies: oranges, apples, nuts, Christmas candy, a chicken, bread for stuffing and pumpkin for the pumpkin pie.

What a delight to a bunch of kids and what a godsend to a mother who worried about what she could fix her family to celebrate the birth of Christ. To us kids, the Salvation Army was Santa Claus and we looked forward to their visit.

In my own small way, I have tried to pay back that generosity. I have passed the tradition down to my son, who knows how much that wonderful basket meant to me.

When I hear the bell ringing, I do not just see a bell, I see families waiting anxiously for their baskets full of goodies. Keep on ringing, little bell, for generations to come.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. Thanks for this lovely letter. You remind us that true charity (love) is a gift freely given. You remind us that people with plenty are usually very generous to those without. You remind us that we should never rely on “government” to take the place of true charity.

  2. alindasue says:


    There was no mention of relying on government to take the place of charity. The true meaning of “charity” is love. Love means not begrudging your neighbor help when he needs it, no matter where the help comes from.

    “People with plenty” are usually generous at Christmas time, but not as much during the rest of the year. Ideally, we should all be as generous throughout the year. Perhaps if we were, no one would have to “rely on the government”, eh.

  3. I believe statistics would prove you wrong about “the rest of the year,” alindsue though I haven’t the time to find any for you to make a case.

    It has been my experience,over a lifetime of church membership, that people are remarkably generous year-round. And look at the Gates’ and even the Jolie-Pitts and Oprah…. along with a whole bunch of other wealthy philanthropists throughout U.S. history and you will find evidence of millions of dollars given to those in need, as well as scholarships, hospitals, free medical care etc.

    And yes, I made the leap to government as our caretaker because I think that’s where our current administration wants to take us, and I think it is terrible when we permit folks to abdicate their personal responsibility to care for brothers and sisters in need.

    Virtually the moment a socialistic, welfare state is established, the needy become, first dependent on government as rescuer, and then angry when the government proves unable to take care of them in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

    Meanwhile those who once helped the poor, shrug off the responsibility because the government is supposed to take care of it.

    The short term effect of government welfare APPEARS TO BE compassionate, but the long term effects are bad for everyone.

  4. Billie Jean, thank you for such an inspiring LTE. Too many of us forget this is a holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus… and regardless of our own spiritual beliefs (or lack of) it marks the birth of one of the most remarkable events in human history.

    I too grew up poor, but fondly remember Christmas… not knowing how much my parents sacrificed to make us children joyful.

    So, whichever God you believe in, may you be blessed.


  5. yabetchya says:

    My Dad got paid once a year, talk about budgeting!!!
    We never(at least I don’t think so)had to rely on the SA, but my parents always had us kids give, serve in some way .
    The best presents I ever received was when my mom made me my green and red velvet dress (woke up on Christmas morning and it was THERE)I saw a dress in the Sears catolog and had to have it, and when my dad made me my doll house completley furnished( all hand made and 8yr old proof) I still have the doll house. Those were the gifts that last a life time.
    Got to say my parents rocked in what we really wanted.

  6. Before anyone jumps on Yabetchya,
    Farmers and Ranchers are often only paid once a year – when they sell their crop/heard.

    When I worked for auto loan organization we had a specific plan were people who got paid once or a few times a year could adjust their payment schedules to coincide with the payment schedules.

  7. denismenis says:

    :::cheers:::, Billie. SA are one of the good guys and I donate when I can to their can!

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