Throughout the holiday shopping season, we have all likely seen and heard The Salvation Army “Bell Ringers.” These men, women and sometimes even families are familiar sights as they ring the bells that subtly and politely ask passers-by to drop a donation into the hanging red kettle.
This is the biggest fund raising campaign for The Salvation Army and has been a holiday tradition for over 100 years. In 1891, the San Francisco area captain was so concerned with the high number of hungry people that he resolved to provide them all with a Christmas Dinner.
There was not enough money to do this, so The Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee recalled a fund-raising campaign that was used in England and set up a kettle in the San Francisco market area. The effort was successful and a full dinner was provided for all those who came on that Christmas Day.
Today, the Salvation Army assists more than four-and-a-half million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time periods. However, that is not the sole purpose of the Red Kettle campaign.
“While some individuals believe that the proceeds from the kettles are used exclusively for Christmas, these kettles actually help fund a multitude of Salvation Army programs,” Jaylen Christie, Public Relations Coordinator for The Salvation Army Orlando Area Command said.
These programs include shelter for homeless men, women and children, homelessness prevention services, emergency financial assistance, food, clothing, back to school supplies, toiletries, senior and disabled HUD subsidized housing in full-sized one bedroom apartments, Christie explained. The Salvation Army also, as part of its ongoing assistance programs, leads worship services, bible study, music programs, and homeless outreach programs.
“This year, because of how Thanksgiving fell on the calendar,” Christie added, “we had five less days of ringing the bell which caused a decrease in the money earned this year.”
But while The Red Kettle fund raiser ended on December 24, people can still make a donation by contacting us at 407-423-8581, by mailing The Salvation Army at 416 West Colonial Drive, Orlando, Florida 32804 or by visiting the Orlando Area Command website.