The story behind the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle

Susan EspirituFountain City

You see the red kettle and hear the bells beginning in mid-November until late December but what is the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign and how did it start?

In 1865, General William Booth founded the Salvation Army in London’s East End slums calling into action the more fortunate members of society as they celebrated the holiday season.

The kettle collections started in San Francisco in 1891 when a local Salvation Army captain named Joseph McFee publicly promised to feed 1,000 destitute people near Fisherman’s Wharf. To raise the money needed, McFee found an old lobster pot and came up with the slogan: “Keep the pot boiling.” He then set up on the waterfront.

Although the actual bells were not rung until 1900, the Red Kettle Campaign is the oldest annual fundraiser of its kind in the United States, providing toys for kids, coats for the homeless, food for the hungry and countless social service programs throughout the year.

The bells and kettles are now helping fund the less fortunate in 131 different countries, including 30 million Americans every year. Roughly 1.8 million Salvation Army members join in around the globe.

Look for the kettle near you or register to ring next year: Register to Ring.

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