Christmas spirit: Youthful volunteer helps out Salvation ArmyOn Saturday afternoon in Hastings, one very young Salvation Army bell ringer was making one very big statement. As shoppers went in and out of Cub Foods between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., they were greeted by 9-year-old Mason Johnson, who made so much noise with his bells that people were telling him they could hear him from across the parking lot.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
On Saturday afternoon in Hastings, one very young Salvation Army bell ringer was making one very big statement. As shoppers went in and out of Cub Foods between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., they were greeted by 9-year-old Mason Johnson, who made so much noise with his bells that people were telling him they could hear him from across the parking lot.
“He was ringing those bells so hard,” said his mother Pam Johnson.
While his classmates were escaping the drizzly weather inside their warm houses, Mason was standing in the elements wearing an elf hat and doing what he could to help those less fortunate than himself.
He proposed the idea to his mother, and then Pam Johnson got to work to sign him up. His reason for volunteering was simple.
“Because I want to help other people that need, like, toys and clothes and stuff,” he said. “I want for them to have stuff that they wouldn’t have.”
While he was ringing by the red kettle, one vehicle was driving by. The driver quickly stopped, and a woman got out of the vehicle. She came up to Mason and told him that she usually sends a check to the Salvation Army. Instead, she decided to donate right on the spot.
“I just had to stop,” she told him.
“He was catching the eyes of a lot of people,” Pam Johnson said. “It went really good. He had so many people stop and talk to him. They thanked him for doing it. It was a good experience for him.”
At first, many of the shoppers approached Pam and referenced Mason being her helper. She quickly told them it was the other way around.
“I said, ‘No, I’m his helper,’” she said.
Before the experience, Mason said he was curious as to how many people would donate.
“I want to ring the bell and see other people to see if they really want to help others, or if they don’t,” he said.
His father Josh said he was proud of Mason for volunterring.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “I think it’s good that he understands a little bit about Christmas – what it’s all about. It’s not just about him getting toys. He’s thinking about people who are in need of things. He’s willing to take some time out and do some good for others.”
Mason is a third-grader at McAuliffe Elementary School. He said he enjoys reading and his teacher, Mrs. (Kelly) Kelly.
“She’s really nice, and she gives out a lot of candy,” he said.
As for his own Christmas, Mason is hoping that a subtle hint dropped by his grandmother may be an indication of what is sitting under the Christmas tree for him.
“My grandma asked me what was on my Christmas list,” he said. “I want something that I can read on. She said, ‘Oh, you could get a Nook Color,’ so I’m excited for that.”
One of the fun Johnson family traditions this time of year is the Elf On the Shelf. The small elf acts as a scout for Santa Claus, reporting back to the North Pole every night to tell Santa Claus if the Johnson boys are being good or bad.
When the elf returns to the house, he always lands in a different spot. When the family wakes up, they have to go searching through the house to see where the elf landed.
According to reports from their elf named Jingle, Mason earned some special recognition from Santa Claus for volunteering his time on Saturday.