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Ring the Red Kettle Bells

Posted: 11:58 AM, Nov 01, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-14 14:07:42-05
I am a Bell Ringer!  Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign

It’s that time of year again!  We are ringing the bells to raise money so homeless families will have a warm safe place to sleep; so hungry people will be fed; so disadvantaged children receive the tutoring and homework help they need; and much more.  Join us! Individuals, families, church groups, civic clubs and businesses are needed to ring the bell at one of our Kettle locations for a day. Would you please consider organizing a bell-ringing group? It’s easy!

Traditional Kettles

The Red Kettle Campaign is The Salvation Army’s largest, yearly annual fundraiser. This campaign raises funds for many of the year-round programs we offer the local community including our Emergency Shelter and our Food and Clothing Bank. During the holiday season, volunteer groups are needed in a variety of ways to help make this campaign a success. See these opportunities below to find out how you can help!

Kettle Bell Ringers: Ring bells at kettle stands throughout Lexington with your group between November 29th-December 24th. Individuals, church groups, civic clubs, businesses, and families are all welcome to ring the bell at a kettle stand for a day. We request that volunteer groups commit to a four-hour shift.

Drivers: Transport bell ringers to their kettle stand during the morning shift (9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.), and transport drivers back to The Salvation Army during the evening shift (6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.)

Driver’s Assistant: Ride with drivers during the evening shift (6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.) to assist in coordinating kettles and bell ringers back to The Salvation Army.  

To volunteer in Lexington or Nicholasville, please contact Megan Couch at: megan.couch@use.salvationarmy.org or (859) 252-7706 ext. 112.

To volunteer in Georgetown, please contact their offices at (502) 863-1551.

The History of the Red Kettle

In 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was distraught because so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry. During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. He only had one major hurdle to overcome -- funding the project.

Where would the money come from, he wondered. He lay awake nights, worrying, thinking, praying about how he could find the funds to fulfill his commitment of feeding 1,000 of the city's poorest individuals on Christmas Day. As he pondered the issue, his thoughts drifted back to his sailor days in Liverpool, England. He remembered how at Stage Landing, where the boats came in, there was a large, iron kettle called "Simpson's Pot" into which passers-by tossed a coin or two to help the poor.

The next day Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, "Keep the Pot Boiling." He soon had the money to see that the needy people were properly fed at Christmas.

Six years later, the kettle idea spread from the west coast to the Boston area. That year, the combined effort nationwide resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy. In 1901, kettle contributions in New York City provided funds for the first mammoth sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a custom that continued for many years. Today in the U.S., The Salvation Army assists more than four-and-a-half million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time periods.

Captain McFee's kettle idea launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but all across the world. Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile and many European countries. Everywhere, public contributions to Salvation Army kettles enable the organization to continue its year-round efforts at helping those who would otherwise be forgotten.