Many of you see in the Greater Tucson Metro Area, after Thanksgiving, the ringing of the bells for the Salvation Army. There are many volunteers and staff at the Salvation Army who coordinate efforts for this special time of year. Wednesday’s are a special day for the real estate community in the area.
Every Wednesday after Thanksgiving up to Christmas, real estate agents, lenders and escrow officers throughout the Tucson area donate at least two hours of their time to ring the bell for the Salvation Army. Sponsored by their company, a team captain is assigned to sign people up to ring the bell. The team captain schedules and coordinates all the shifts.
Last year, I had the honor of being a team captain and saw the beauty first hand of how people of all walks of life continue to give in the spirit of Christmas. This year, I had the privilege of ringing with Manny Herrera, of Old Republic Title Company.
Herrera is blessed with a very good voice, and is known for singing at the Walgreens in Rancho Vistoso on Real Estate Wednesdays during the holidays. You cannot help but join in and harmonize, singing the classic holiday songs such as Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”
“It is very rewarding to hear the stories about how the Salvation Army helped people, and seeing how my singing gets people in the spirit of giving,” he said.
Christopher Kim, coordinator for the Salvation Army, works tirelessly throughout this time to manage each location, by ensuring the kettles are dropped off and returned, monies counted and directed accordingly. According to Kim, there are 12 locations across Tucson, Oro Valley and Marana. Safeway, Fry’s, AJ’s, Walgreens, Walmart and Bashas are a few of the stores that support Real Estate Wednesdays.
You may wonder how this event started and how it relates to real estate. In 2013, a representative of the Salvation Army read a book by Joseph and Joann Callaway, real estate agents in Phoenix, entitled “Clients First.” Marlene Collins of the Salvation Army sat down with Joann and asked if somehow, they could assist the Salvation Army, as they were having to pay people to ring the bells. From that luncheon date, Joann volunteered all of Maricopa County real estate agents to the ring the bell as volunteers.
“I was very nervous in taking this on,” Joann said.
Joann added that this is the fourth year that Real Estate Wednesdays is in existence, and it is thriving. To her knowledge, there are approximately 2,500 real estate agents ringing the bell up in Maricopa County. With the conception of Real Estate Wednesdays, it only was a matter of time before Tucson stepped in. The Tucson real estate community was approached by Joseph and JoAnn Calloway. Real Estate Wednesdays in Tucson was born four years ago, after a modest meeting and start with the Calloways, Tucson lenders, Old Republic Title and a small group of realtors. We now have several real estate brokerages, vendors, title companies and lenders sponsoring Real Estate Wednesdays.
Through this event, Real Estate Wednesdays not only helps those in-need through the Salvation Army, it brings individuals, couples and families together as they put their money in the kettle, demonstrating the importance of giving. In addition, the real estate community comes together to show their appreciation and gratitude in serving the community. Veterans stop and share their good experience with the Salvation Army, seniors laugh about the snow they had to shovel back east and those not feeling so good get lifted with a little holiday cheer!
Lending a hand, listening, and respecting the walk that each person has taken in life, is part of the holiday spirit. Truly, the gift of giving provides each one of us the ability to share with an open heart, and feeling blessed beyond for all that we have.
May you all have a very blessed and joyous Hanukkah and Christmas.
Deborah Van De Putte is a Realtor with Engel and Voelkers. She serves the greater Tucson area, including Oro Valley and Marana. She can be reached at 282-1111 or Deborah.email@example.com.