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Ringing a Bell This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Tracy looks up from her yellow notebook and clears her throat. The noise in the class dies down as we turn toward her. “We're going to be helping the Salvation Army by ringing the bell. Each of you will ring it for four hours,” she announces. As the words leave her lips, groans can be heard around the room. Grudgingly, I dig for my planner and take notes. Four hours of ringing a stupid bell. Four hours that I could be studying for the SATs. Was this supposed to be a joke? I joined the mob around the table and signed up for the first day of break – to get it over with.

A few weeks later, I am standing next to the big blue-and-white Walmart. There is another guy holding a jar across from me. Great, I'm going to be stuck here ringing a bell with another guy who is trying to get donations for some church organization. To top it off, it's 40 degrees.

Slowly, I put on the red apron bearing the emblem of the Salvation Army. I hope that I already spent two minutes doing that. Ring! Ring! A group of older women hobble up with their canes to drop in some change. A man with a broad-rimmed hat and two-inch heels comes by and dumps some coins in. I check my phone. Just 10 minutes have passed.

A harsh gust blows against my freezing face. I am starting to regret ignoring my mom's advice to wear a scarf. I look up, wishing that time would pass more quickly. A few birds sweep around the poles. The sky is a gentle blue canvas with stripes of yellow. Palm trees wave in the cold wind. Another clink brings me back to reality.

From the full parking lot steps a tall man. As he limps toward me, I see his unbalanced shoulders and awkward figure. His hair is tousled and greasy. Dirt smudges his jeans and shirt. When his hand reaches toward the bucket, I catch a whiff of oil and smoke. I cannot help but say, “Thank you, sir. Have a nice day.” He turns to smile, a smile that starkly contrasts his soiled clothing. The money he donated was not a lot, but it was clearly a lot to him.

I am inspired by his generosity. This act of charity, though not much, is worth so much more than donations given by those who are better off.

Now I continue to ring my bell happily, broadly beaming at everyone who enters the store. Occasionally, I hand out some homemade cookies that were given to me earlier. Truly, kindness is contagious.

Many say that the world is coming to an end because mankind is becoming more and more problematic each year. I say that whoever believes that needs to go and ring a bell for the ­Salvation Army.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 21 comments. Post your own!

beautifulspirit This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 18, 2012 at 10:42 am:
Yeah! Fantastic article~ Reading it, will make others want to volunteer and do community service.
 
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mjayne4 said...
Feb. 8, 2011 at 1:41 pm:
I am so glad i read this piece. i had been thinking about getting invloved in the community more and this is a great way to do it!
 
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SKP 1 said...
Jan. 15, 2011 at 1:43 am:

Grace,

Excellent article! Congratulations on being published, too!! I so enjoyed reading it.

 
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Grace_G. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm:
Thank you! I hope it was enjoyable :)
 
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haha4579 said...
Jan. 6, 2011 at 7:41 pm:
I loved this story! I also loved that u thought it was cold at 40 degrees! I can tell you're from somewhere hot! :) Still loved it
 
Grace_G. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 7, 2011 at 6:36 pm :
Wow! Correct! I'm actually from one of the most southernmost part of Texas XD
 
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stripedtrout said...
Jan. 5, 2011 at 11:56 am:
Great job on your story.  It seems that all we hear about is bad news.  It's nice to have someone write about a good experience.
 
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Yu Gu said...
Jan. 3, 2011 at 3:10 am:
A very nice article. It is so encouraging. This story not only shows your good writing skills, but also convinces me you are a young thinker.
 
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Sunshine said...
Dec. 31, 2010 at 2:22 pm:
This is the first story i read here, & i think it's great! You have such a great potential, thanks for sharing :)
 
Grace_G. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 1, 2011 at 9:06 pm :
Thank you for your encouragement! I'm so glad you liked it :D
 
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TheLastChocolatier said...
Dec. 30, 2010 at 11:09 pm:
Great! The story's a tad direct for my taste, but I like your writing style in that your descriptions are vivid, and that you certainly get your point across well.
 
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Lucy Gao said...
Dec. 30, 2010 at 8:11 pm:
This story made my day. Very interesting and touching! I'm sure it was quite an experience! 
 
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Janet said...
Dec. 30, 2010 at 8:06 pm:
You are such a good writer.  I'm sure your parents are very proud of you.  Keep up the writing, very interesting!
 
Grace_G. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 30, 2010 at 8:11 pm :
Thank you for your encouragement. I will keep it up =]
 
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Joy:) said...
Dec. 30, 2010 at 12:22 pm:
this story was very instersting i really liked it, I have similiar experience, it is very worth of 4 hours
 
Grace_G. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 30, 2010 at 12:36 pm :
Yes, the 4 hours of standing in the cold was definitely worth it! XD
 
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Driving_Force said...
Dec. 30, 2010 at 11:56 am:
This article is very uplifting!
 
Grace_G. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 30, 2010 at 12:12 pm :
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it =]
 
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Fellow "Tree" said...
Dec. 30, 2010 at 12:42 am:
This is a well-crafted essay with vibrant descriptions, effective prose style, and a great message. Good job.
 
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ILoveFrogs said...
Dec. 29, 2010 at 7:13 pm:
Very touching....like it! Hope you keep writing! :D
 
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