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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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ILoveFrogs said...
Dec. 29, 2010 at 7:13 pm:
Very touching....like it! Hope you keep writing! :D
 
Grace_G. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 29, 2010 at 7:39 pm :
Thank you for your encouragement! Definitely, I will keep writing :D
 
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