Christmas bells are ringing

hannahNothing makes me more aware of the rapid passing of time than my involvement with the Greater Pittston Salvation Army Advisory Board. In the blink of an eye I went from the 34-year-old “baby” on the board in 1984 to the member with the second longest tenure.
How did that happen?
My Salvation Army memories, often shared in my newspaper column, are many. My favorite stars the late Jimmy Condosta, board treasurer in those early years.
At one meeting during the Christmas season, Major Ruth Pryce told us about the night the Salvation Army van conked out. It was dark and bitterly cold and she was right in the middle of delivering food baskets to the needy.
“I sat there and had a little conversation with God,” she said. “I told him I will always do his bidding and if he desires that I walk home in the cold I will. But he knew I was on a mercy mission and if it was all the same to him, I’d like to deliver my packages and drive home.”
With that, she turned the key one more time and the engine started right up.
“You know,” Jimmy Condosta said when the Major finished her story, “when my car won’t start I talk to God too. But not in so many words.”
My latest Salvation Army memories involve my great niece, 13-year-old daughter of my nephew Jeff Kern and his lovely wide Katrina.
Hannah has been ringing a bell at a Salvation Army kettle with me for the past four years. She asked if she could join me when she was just 10 and has been volunteering since.
The first year, we were stationed outside of the K-Mart at Pittston Plaza and my daughter Greta happened to be in town, so she joined us. It was bone-chilling cold that day but you wouldn’t know it observing Hannah. She smiled and chatted and bounced around like it was 4th of July.
She was wearing her Uggs and I learned that day that Uggs are so warm and comfy you don’t wear socks with them. I was wearing insulated hiking boots and insulated ski socks and my toes were so frozen I couldn’t feel them. Oh, to be young.
Hannah and I, along with Katrina and my sister Sheila, Hannah’s grandma, will be ringing bells at a Salvation Army red kettle again Saturday afternoon from noon to 3 at Redner’s on the Pittston By-Pass.
If you get the chance, stop and say hi.
After more than 30 years of affiliation with the Salvation Army, I can assure you that every cent dropped in that kettle will be put to good use.
Note: That’s Hannah and Sheila as they joined forces two years ago.

Ed Ackerman