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Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle campaign begins

By Staff | Nov 14, 2008

Everyone has seen them. Every year people come to expect them. They are in the malls and the grocery stores, accompanied by the sound of ringing bells.

Starting Friday, the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle campaign kicks off at Edison Mall, ushering in the holiday season with six weeks of fund raising.

The proceeds from the campaign primarily help the Salvation Army’s Christmas Cheer program, in which Lee County families can register for holiday assistance.

But proceeds from the kettles also go to helping out the Salvation Army’s core services all year long.

“Our year-round service provides help to tens of thousands of people throughout the year,” said Megan Spears, a Salvation Army spokesperson. “The kettles support our Christmas Cheer program, but also supports programs all year.”

The tradition of the red kettle is nearly as old as the Salvation Army itself, going back more than 100 years.

Started in San Francisco by Salvation Army Capt. Joseph McFee, the officer wanted to provide 1,000 free Christmas dinners to the poor but had no way to pay for it.

As the story goes, McFee positioned a large black pot on the docks near ferry boat landings, drawing donations from passersby and those who traveled by ferry. Thus, the longstanding tradition was born.

Lee County’s branch of the Salvation Army has been providing Christmas assistance for the past 57 years.

The non-profit organization collected $481,000 last year through kettle donations and kettle sponsorships. It is bracing for a tough year this time out, especially with the increased demand of the services.

“We’ve had a dramatic increase in our services this year. Christmas Cheer registration has increased by 40 percent this year alone,” said Spears. “In three years’ time we’ve had a 110 percent increase.”

Bell ringers are still needed for the six-week campaign, which will total more than 20,000 hours.

The “Kettle Kick-Off” event starts at 10:30 a.m. inside the Edison Mall. Spears said said local anchors Stacey Deffenbaugh and Len Jennings will act as emcees. There will also be live entertainment courtesy of Bobbie Noonan’s Child Care.

For more information, contact the Salvation Army at 278-1551.