Archive for Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sharing is caring: Salvation Army’s kettle history explored

Those iconic red kettles you see in front of stores and on street corners each holiday season are one of the most familiar signs that Christmas is near. Below, the Salvation Army answers questions behind its kettles.

Those iconic red kettles you see in front of stores and on street corners each holiday season are one of the most familiar signs that Christmas is near. Below, the Salvation Army answers questions behind its kettles.

December 1, 2010

Q: When and where did the Salvation Army’s kettle tradition begin?

A: In December 1891 in San Francisco.

Q: Who came up with the idea?

A: Salvation Army Capt. Joseph McFee had resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner to the area’s poor persons. But how would he pay for the food? His thoughts went back to his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England. On the Stage Landing he saw a large pot, called “Simpson’s pot” into which charitable donations were thrown by passersby. The next morning, he secured permission from the authorities to place a similar pot at the Oakland ferry landing, at the foot of Market Street.

Q: How are the contributions used by The Salvation Army?

A: Public contributions to the kettles enable The Salvation Army to bring the spirit of Christmas to those who would otherwise be forgotten - to the aged and lonely, the ill, the inmates of jails and other institutions, the poor and unfortunate.

Q: Have the kettles changed over time?

A: Yes. Some of the new kettles have such devices as a self-ringing bell and a booth complete with public address system over which traditional Christmas carols are broadcast.

Credit card kettles were introduced several years ago and are becoming more widespread.

Q: How can somebody help with the kettle drive?

A: Consider volunteering to bell ring and don’t forget to drop a few dollars into one of the kettles. Eighty-eight percent of all donations stay right here to help our neighbors and friends in need.

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