By EMOKE BEBIAK
Some shoppers acknowledge her, others pass by her. Some return her greeting with a smile, while others make rude remarks.
Regardless of the reactions, Salvation Army bell ringer Nicole Vaughn of Columbia goes back to the West Broadway Hy-Vee day after day to spend two to five hours volunteering.
“I just want to give back,” Vaughn said. “I feel God’s been blessing me through a lot of problems.”
This is Vaughn’s first year working with the Salvation Army to help others because she said she had been blessed by the organization herself.
“They have always helped me.” Vaughn said. “Every year, they give toys to my children.”
Vaughn has three children between ages 11 and 19.
She also received a Christmas tree from the Salvation Army one year.
Vaughn has been volunteering as a bell ringer since Nov. 13 and has devoted four days a week to greeting shoppers.
Even her fractured leg can’t keep Vaughn from spending hours standing by red buckets. On Thursday, Dec. 16, she apologized for ringing a bell while sitting. She said this is the first time she has done this ever since she hurt her leg in November.
Despite her enthusiasm, Vaughn soon realized that trying to make a difference isn’t easy.
“Some people fly past me, when I try to greet them,” Vaughn said. “If you can’t give, at least try to be nice.”
Despite the rude remarks, Vaughn has experienced kindness from people that helps her keep doing her job.
“Last Tuesday it was really cold and a lady brought me hot cocoa,” Vaughn said.
Another shopper gave her gloves.
Vaughn has also seen people give money with generosity. She said on one occasion, a lady came into the West Broadway Hy-Vee and apologized for not having cash one her. Later on, she came back and put a $100 bill in Vaughn’s bucket.
Knowing what it means to be a bell ringer, Vaughn now has a bigger appreciation for the people who do it. She said she carries quarters with her and gives 50 cents every time she sees a red bucket.
Vaughn said she especially enjoyed working at the West Broadway location because people were nicer there than in other stores.
“Some people came up to me here saying, ‘I can’t walk past you, you always smile’,” she said.
Vaughn said the West Broadway Hy-Vee has grown so close to her heart that she was planning on asking for this location next year.