I was walking into a Cub Foods store, fighting the cold north wind and single-digit temperatures from my warm car to the door. A man next to a Salvation Army's red kettle was ringing his bell and singing something about merry Christmas or happy holidays. I don't quite remember because I was scurrying to get out of the cold. When I was done shopping, I passed the bell-ringer again. I took my glove off and reached in my pocket to pull out a $1 bill. As my freezing fingers pressed it in the kettle slot, the man said, "Bless you." I turned and looked at his smiling face, frost clinging to his mustache and eyelids. I reached into my pocket and pulled out another bill and pressed it into the slot. "You've fed someone today," the man said, and blessed me again. "No, bless you," I said. "To me, it's only money. You are the one standing in the cold. You are the one giving of himself to help others. Bless you!" He just smiled and rang the bell again.

I walked back to my Cadillac, hopped in and turned the heater on. The next time I go out, I'll prepare myself. I'll make sure to bring along something to give. I'll never pass another red kettle without reaching in my pocket.

Jerry leppart, Eden Prairie