It is almost impossible to go anywhere without "seeing kettles and hearing bells." Too often a worthy cause could become taken for granted during the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. The Salvation Army's kettle drive is one of those causes. It was first started in 1891 by Captain Joseph McFee to help the poor in San Francisco.
As a sailor, he had seen a similar fund raising drive initiated from the docks of Liverpool, England as disembarking passengers put monies into a large kettle called "Simpson's Pot." He placed his kettle at Oakland Ferry's Landing with a sign that read, "Keep the Pot Boiling." He was able to collect enough monies for Christmas dinner for the poor that year.
The effort became widespread in 1897, and enough was raised to provide about 150,000 dinners. Today the Salvation Army's mission goes beyond feeding the poor, but also providing humanitarian assistance to families in need, especially those with children. The red kettle can been seen nationwide with each state customizing how it initiates or implements its program. Fayetteville, North Carolina's continues to assist families with financial assistance and a Christmas Readiness Program to impact the hardships that a slow recovering economy has created in the lives of many families with children.
Some of the donations collected are vital to offset the Afterschool Program which provides much needed supervision for students from the ages of 6 through 18. The programs: Education and Career, Character and Leadership, Health and Life Skills, Sports and Fitness, Arts, Reading Buddies, and Specialized Initiatives are implemented to enable that the participants are able to reach their fullest potentials as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
So this Christmas season, as you encounter "bell ringers," keep the initial sign that was placed beside the very first kettle in mind. Your donations can make a huge difference in the lives of children as you continue to "Keep the Pot Boiling."