Why I always keep cash on me during Christmas

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I used to never keep cash on me. Never. Ever. Most of that was just laziness. Who wants to look around for an in-network ATM. We’ve been banking virtually almost since Brie and I were married (remember Netbank? Yep, we were early customers. Loved it!) That made the ATM issue easier. But then, we would spend the cash and have no idea where it went!

Now, I ALWAYS carry cash with me during Christmas. Not all throughout the year. But, definitely during Christmas, as soon as Thanksgiving ended. I vowed I would do this just a few years ago.

My close friends know that I have a soft place in my heart for the people of the Philippines – specifically, the islands of Leyte and Samar. I served as a missionary there from 1990 – 1992. In 2013, a devastating typhoon tore the city of Tacloban and surrounding areas to shreds.

If you’ve never seen an enormous natural disaster in person, well, it’s a heartbreaking sight. Pictures and video do not show the extent of toll it takes on people. We hear about people being displaced, losing their homes, lives lost, etc. But, we never really feel the impact.

I returned to that place I love – Tacloban – in 2013 immediately following the Typhoon. On my first day there, a good man and his wife gave me a tour of the damage. We drove for miles and miles and miles it seemed and the devastation simply did not end. The storm was so wide! It was unbelievable. I cried as I looked out the window to see what had become of that beautiful land and those beautiful people.


I met many, many amazing individuals representing charities and NGO’s from around the world. I even represented one at United Nations coordination meetings in Tacloban. That was all very exciting. But, none impressed me more than the Salvation Army.


We see the bell ringers out every year. I used to get annoyed by them. I used to think “sigh, another big charity taking advantage of people during Christmas so that they can pay their staff.” I was ignorant.

I learned a great deal about the Salvation Army. I fell in love with this amazing organization. Here are a few things I learned, first hand for myself.

The Salvation Army is highly organized. All of a sudden, I started to see people show up in their Salvation Army uniforms and get to work. But, they were coordinated. There is a clear hierarchy. Decisions get made quickly and they are usually the right decisions.

The Salvation Army is always prepared to go to “battle”. They don’t always have the resources they need to do the most good, but, they certainly use what they have. They deploy quickly and have solid relationships with other organizations to respond very quickly to disasters.

The Salvation Army has a team of experienced disaster response experts. They train at sites around the world. These volunteers can be on the ground almost immediately following a disaster. While the Salvation Army uses local leadership hierarchies to manage recovery experts, these experts come in to direct and guide the work. They have experience where local leadership does not.

They are HONEST
I was most impressed with the way the Salvation Army manages aid distributions. The make sure that the people on their distribution lists truly have needs. Then, they personally ensure that those are the right people receiving the aid. It is shameful how many aid organizations participate in corrupt practices during a disaster. I always know that the Salvation Army will reach the right people and the chances for corrupt officials and individuals taking my donation is nil.

They CARE … they really do
Doing aid distributions, I discovered how much the Salvation Army cares about people in need. They don’t care what religion you are. Aid goes to everyone in need. At one distribution point, they paused the distribution to first make sure the elderly and the lame could come to the front of the line. It was a tender moment seeing these precious, broken souls wait patiently for those most in need to go to the front of the line.

I love the Salvation Army. They are a great organization. I now ALWAYS keep money in my wallet during Christmas. I’ll never again pass a bell ringer with an empty wallet and nothing to give.

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