Your holiday shopping trip to most retail stores would not be complete without the familiar “ding, ding, ding” of a Salvation Army volunteer ringing a bell and collecting money in a hanging “Red Kettle”.
According to the Salvation Army, the Red Kettle Campaign, the oldest annual charitable fundraiser of its kind in the United States, helps raise money for those who need it most in communities nationwide – providing toys for kids, coats for the homeless, food for the hungry and countless social service programs year-round.
From its humble beginnings as a fundraiser started by a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco in 1891, the Red Kettle Campaign has grown into one of the most recognizable and important charitable outreach efforts in the United States. A few interesting facts:
- In 2010, the Salvation Army raised a record $142 million with their annual Red Kettle Christmas campaign.
- Volunteer Bell Ringers man their “Red Kettles” at retail store fronts and shopping malls at approximately 25,000 locations nationwide.
- A tradition has developed in some locations in the US in which gold coins or rings are anonymously inserted into the kettles
- 83 cents of every dollar donated during this time is used to support the organizations many missions throughout the world.
- In recent years, the Salvation Army has become more high tech, utilizing various computer and internet platforms, social media, an on-line, virtual “Red Kettle” and even an iPad App, complete with a ringing bell.
The Salvation Army and their army of Red Kettle volunteers are important reminders that even in the hustle and bustle of the year end holidays, this is the perfect time to be charitable.
Next time you hear that familiar ringing bell, count your blessings and then drop a little spare change in the kettle. Your donation will have a significant impact on someone less fortunate.