Throw Out the Lifeline is a wonderful and inspirational hymn form 1890 with words and music by Edwin S. Ufford. It reminds us that Jesus saves and so we must keep Christ in Christmas and put aside the commercialism. Christmas was never meant to be a holiday made for spending money or giving out the most expensive presents it is actually Jesus birthday and Jesus was born poor. Christmas is a time to take a look at those around us who are poor and needy who need some holiday cheer if only someone would be so kind as to help them out with a loving hand, a smile and understanding. Take a look around your area and see where you can donate toys for poor children and clothing or even food. There are usually many Christmas drives at this time of the year. Let’s remember those who are so much less fortunate than we are, those who don’t have any family or friends. This time of the year is the hardest for those who are homeless not only because of the cold but also you can imagine how they feel out there on the street while all around them brightly lit Christmas trees are glowing.
There are so many different ways in which you can help. Don’t walk by those ringing Santas instead don’t forget to reach into your pocket and drop some change into the pots. You might not have a lot to give but with what you give and everyone else gives it can sure warm a heart that is calling for help. If you have the time to volunteer don’t forget to check out soup kitchens and serve up a holiday meal for the poor who will really appreciate your winning smile and kind words and food in an otherwise empty belly.
Every little bit helps so much and it doesn’t take much to make a cold heart feel the warmth radiating from you. For a needy person just knowing that there are people who care can mean so very much. So throw out the lifeline to them and help them to catch on. Help them to realize that there is love in this world, that there are people who care and have smiles, good words and helping hands to share.
So take a look at how you can help. The Salvation Army is one organization which helps every Christmas. Don’t pass their traditional red kettles by. Each year they collect money which is donated and used to help needy families, seniors and the homeless. There are many different ways in which they help including handing out clothing, toys for children, and providing Christmas dinners. Volunteers are often needed to give out gifts to those adults and children in hospitals, seniors in nursing home and shelters which provide sit-down dinners. The Salvation Army is everywhere and this is one way you can throw out a lifeline to help them.
The Salvation Army red kettle tradition dates back to 1891 at which time Joseph McFee who was a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco, California became overwhelmed when he saw the many poor within the city. From this he got a simple idea and decided that it would be a good idea to provide free Christmas dinner to at least a 1,000 of the poorest to give them hope during the holidays and to let them see that people cared. However McFee had no money for the meals.
He came up with a solution he remembered his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England and a place called Stage Landing where ships docked. There had been a large iron kettle “Simpson’s Pot” in which people would toss coins for the needy as they walked by. So out he went and found a pot and placed it at the Oakland Ferry Landing right near San Francisco’s busy Market Street. Next to this pot he put a sign that read “Keep the Pot Boiling”. As word spread the kettle started filling with money for the poor.
The campaign was so successful that by 1897 the Salvation Army had kettles in the Boston area and that Christmas there was enough money to feed 150,000 poor people. The kettles started spreading far and wide and came to New York City in 1901 where the money from the kettle provided a huge sit-down Christmas dinner for the poor in Madison Square Garden. Over the years, decades and even centuries the Salvation Army has continued to collect donations and has raised millions of dollars for the needy. Each year they serve over 4.5 million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Over this time some miracles have occurred as well. Over the past several years in the red kettles Salvation Army officers have started finding strange gold coins. Unknown donors will drop gold coins into a kettle usually a South African Krugerrand worth over $1,000. In 2009 when economic times were especially hard gold coins appeared in red kettles all over the United States including Hawaii during the holiday season. Just writing this moves my heart and I have the urge to say that this is truly a miracle and if you believe in miracles like I do then I must say that God’s angels are looking after the needy. May God bless those who are dropping in the gold coins and doesn’t that make you just want to smile?
The red kettle Salvation Army has spread to posts in Japan, Europe, Korea, Chile and other places around the world. I know we have a Salvation Army Headquarters here in Riga, Latvia and I know just where those last coins after my holiday spending will go. So everyone let’s throw out the lifeline, let’s spread love and cheer among the needy this Christmas let’s bring them our love and the love of God.