Family get-together helps Salvation Army

Monday, December 24, 2012
All 18 members of Jo Smolczyk's family got together Saturday to ring bells for the Salvation Army. First row, from left, Kobe Baldridge, Nicole Schleeman, Jo Smolczyk, Heather Pohl, Destiny Pohl, Amber Baldridge, Lisa Lyons. Back, from left, Karter Robertson, Scott Friehe, Bart Martyak, Mindy Kane, Drew Schleeman, Mark Friehe, Patty Smolczyk, Angie Pohl, Dee Friehe, Rick Smolczyk and Trent Lyons. (Lorri Sughroue/McCook Daily Gazette)

McCOOK, Nebraska -- Jo Smolczyk of McCook and her extended family decided to give something different this year -- themselves.

With all her kids and grandkids expected in McCook for the holidays, Smolczyk wanted to do something together as a family. So she signed everyone up to ring bells on Saturday for the Salvation Army.

"This was something we could do all together. Christmas has become too much of just getting and giving presents," Smolczyk said, who rang bells for the Salvation Army earlier this year with a friend. "I'm hoping other families will make this their tradition, too."

With temperatures struggling to reach the 30s on Saturday, 18 of the Smolczyk clan gathered at the entrance of a busy store, clad in mittens, Santa Claus hats, bells and lots of enthusiasm.

With "boys" at one entrance and the "girls" on the other, the family rang bells for about an hour, having too much fun to think about the cold weather.

"We were jumping around, singing Christmas Carols, so we didn't really feel the cold," said one of Jo's daughters, Mindy Kane of Butte, Montana.

Mark Friehe of McCook, her brother-in-law, said he was surprised at the amount of the donations given.

"It was nice, people were so generous," he said, noting that some gave significantly.

But whether the donations were large or small, it's all about doing the right thing for the right reason, for the Smolczyk's.

"Times are tough, a lot of people of struggling," said another one of Jo's daughters, Angie Pohl, of Denver, Colorado. "This is something we can do that will help other people and show the kids what it's really all about."

Pohl has been "paying it forward" for sometime now, often paying the bill for the customer behind her in a drive-through and one year, buying inexpensive sweaters and scarves with her daughter and handing them out to the homeless on Christmas Day. "It's gotta start somewhere," she said.

And for this family, it begins with themselves.

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