In December, 1891, A Salvation Army officer in San Francisco, Capt. Joseph McFee, resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner to the area’s poor persons. His thoughts went back to his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England. On the Stage Landing he saw a large pot, called "Simpson’s pot" into which charitable donations were thrown by passers-by.
The next morning, he secured permission from the authorities to place a similar pot at the Oakland ferry landing, at the foot of Market Street. In addition, a brass urn was placed on a stand in the waiting room for the same purpose.
Thus, McFee launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but also around the world. Kettles now are used in Korea, Japan, Chile and in many European countries.
Kettles have changed. Some of the new kettles have such devices as a self-ringing bell and a booth complete with public address system over which traditional Christmas carols are broadcast. Credit card kettles were introduced in the United States several years ago and are becoming more widespread.
The Salvation Army in Barton County opens its annual Christmas Red Kettle Campaign Thursday and Great Bend Salvation Army Store Manager Jane Berg said the goal locally is $39,000.
With the theme this year being "Hope Wanted," the campaign runs through Christmas Eve. The program raises money for the poor, homeless, and others in need who often remain overlooked during the holidays and all year long.
Berg said the money raised will help sustain the programs and services that help the needy. "The economy has again made it a rough year for many families, and we’ve seen it firsthand in the numbers of people coming to us for help."
It is especially hard during the holiday season, she said, when so many of our neighbors don’t know how they’ll have the means to provide for their families. "That’s why the Salvation Army looks to our community for their generosity: so we can show that same compassion and kindness to the less fortunate."
This holiday season is expected to be one of the busiest yet. Salvation Army officials stress that any contribution will help – and donations of time are accepted as gratefully as donations of money. "Reaching out to those in need by volunteering to ring bells or serve warm meals is a wonderful way to connect with the community, to give back, and to share blessings and holiday joy," said Berg.
Anyone wishing to donate by credit card may call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Checks may be mailed to the Salvation Army, attention Berg, 2545 10th St. Great Bend, Ks, 67530. For more information, call 1-800-336-4547, dial "0" and ask for Mary Scott.
For more information, call Berg at 620-792-4299.