I heard a flock of geese flying high in the sky over Wildcat Boulevard the other morning.

I heard a flock of geese flying high in the sky over Wildcat Boulevard the other morning. It was the coldest morning to date, and the wild geese were probably “getting out of Dodge.”

They were too high in the cloudy sky to see, but their calls came through loud and clear.

I understand geese and ducks will not migrate south if they are comfortable north of their winter range. Scientists also think geese honk as they fly along to encourage the others to keep flying. They especially urge on the goose who is flying “point” in the “V,” as it is breaking the air for the others to fly easier. (Don’t race car drivers call this practice “riding in the draft?”)

After the sounds of geese passing over subsided, I began thinking about Christmas. If you really think about Christmas, most activities are done, presents are bought, and decorations are hung to make others happy.

For the last several years, Neosho Lions Club has donated a day to ring the bell (man the kettle) for the Salvation Army. My tour of duty was at the south door of the Neosho Walmart store from five to six on a Saturday evening. Zella Mae Collie accompanied me. She is a happy bell-ringing partner, and the Christmas “hat” she wears attracts much attention.
This bell ringing experience gave me Christmas “food for thought” after observing people for an hour.

Most people care for others, and the Salvation Army has a reputation for helping the “down and out.” People are willing to give to the Salvation Army because they know their money will be well spent.

On a Saturday evening, at least two-thirds of the people going in and out of Wal-Mart are families. In most cases, the parents have their kids put the money in the pot. One little kid could not have been more than a year old, but, with some help, he stuffed a folded bill in the Salvation Army kettle.

One small boy had been given a pocketful of change before he left home. When he and his family reached the pot, they had decided the kids would donate. The little boy dug in his pocket, found a coin, and dropped it into the pot. He repeated this at least eight more times.

Several people thanked us for volunteering that evening. Several mentioned they donated  “because no one should be hungry at Christmas.”

Volunteering as a bell ringer has many personal rewards also. I saw many people I hadn’t seen in years. I saw former students who caught me up on their lives. I met their children and grandchildren, received handshakes and hugs.

Take a walk, volunteer when you can, overuse those signal lights, have a Merry Christmas filled with giving and joy, and see what you notice while passing along Wildcat Boulevard.

Russell Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.