BARBWIRE BOB – Ramblin’ Around the Corral with Bob Sweeney

I’ve stood out on the streets in downtown Denver numerous years ringing the bell with fellow Lions Club members for the Salvation Army.   We wore our yellow vests showing our Lion membership symbols.  We had little bells that we rang to draw attention to the red kettle holding the dimes and dollars to support the very worthy Salvation Army.

It was always a humbling experience to spend time on a busy downtown corner during a cold windy December day with a little bell and a red pot hanging on a triangle stand.

Several experiences I will always remember; one was a raging blizzard that had us taking turns seeking shelter in a nearby office lobby as the wind raged and the snow continued to fall.  Some members were dressed in their business suits and hardly ready for the inclement weather that struck that day.  Regardless, we pulled in hundreds of dollars for one of the best charities in America.

Another memorable bell ringing experience happened shortly after moving to Denver from Craig in 1980 and changing Lions Clubs.  I was busy ringing the bell in Denver when the Moffat County attorney walked by and recognized me on the street ringing a bell for donations.  He looked shocked and approached me saying, “Sweeney, is that you?”  He quickly put $5 in the kettle and continued down the street, I often wondered what he related to his acquaintances in Craig about seeing his old newspaper publisher on the streets of Denver.

Another observation is that the better dressed men and women tend to walk by without looking, paying attention, or donating.  Sorry folks but it is true, although I’m sure some write out their checks at home.

Time and time again, it would be the poorer looking people, older, and sometimes handicapped, that would place money in the kettle.  One elderly, modestly dressed  male, put a gold Krugergrand coin into the red kettle.

To this day I will not enter or depart a grocery store without putting some coins or a bill into the bell ringer’s bucket.  The Salvation Army sometimes has to hire  folks to ring the bell but many service club members volunteer for the annual fund-raising drive.

Volunteers of America, (VOA) is a sister organization to the Salvation Army with the founders, part of the Salvation Army early day family.  They have a very strong presence in the metro area where they do “Meals on Wheels” from a massive kitchen and provide housing to needy families. 

Goodwill Industries is another great charity providing a “Hand up, rather than a handout.”   They inspire their team of challenged employees to earn a salary and support themselves.  They honor and respect their labor force and have an annual awards ceremony to honor their loyal and loving staff members.   Goodwill has many thrift stores throughout the city that offer gainful employment to those who might not find work in the mainstream work force.

I once visited Goodwill in Colorado Springs and went in the back door to interview the manager.  I entered a work area that was filled with severely handicapped workers in wheelchairs listening to music, sitting around a long table assembling and packaging water sprinkler parts.  They were happy to be employed and enjoying each other’s company.  A job brings real meaning to life and happiness. 

I mention some of the major very successful non-profits but there are over 3000 certified organizations to support on the Colorado Gives Day website. 

The Villager marketing team reached out to some nonprofits in an attempt to help elevate awareness.  You can see them listed in this week’s Villager and pay special attention to these hard working and very deserving charitable non-profits. 

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on fund raising activities for the majority of these charitable organizations while the demands for food and services has increased dramatically.

A few dollars here, and there, adds up to major support! onDec. 7, 2021