It is a new year, and the local Salvation Army has had time to reflect on this past year’s red kettle campaign that raises much needed funding for the local organization’s plethora of programming and goals within its mission.
Programming benefited by the kettles includes youth clubs and classes, the community feeding program, and more.
The funding also goes towards dire operational needs, such as rent, utilities, and other costs associated with running an organization.
According to the Salvation Army, the kettle programming began in 1891, when Captain Joseph McFee of the Salvation Army in San Francisco wanted to provide dinner for 1,000 under-served people.
He had no way to fund the endeavor but thought back to his days as a sailor in Liverpool, where there was a pot on the docks of the city’s waterfront for donations.
McFee secured permission to place a brass urn at the ferry landing. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” Soon, he had all the money he needed to fund the Christmas dinner.
In two-years’ time, there were 30 kettle locations on the west coast.
In 1895, he was transferred to Boston and took the idea with him. The program was feeding hundreds of thousands until it grew to New York, where the New York World newspaper called the program “the newest and most novel device for collecting money.”
In 1901, kettle donations in New York City funded a massive sit-down Christmas dinner at Madison Square Garden. The meal became a tradition for many years.
The program then exploded across the country.
The bell-ringing and kettles have been ingrained in the American mind, have been featured in movies and television shows alike, and continue to raise funding for dire social programming hosted by the organization.
“The kettle is one of our most important fundraisers we have over the course of the year,” Salvation Army’s Dan Simco explained.
The only day the Salvation Army doesn’t ring throughout this time frame is on Sundays.
There are 10 to 12 locations in our local community for the local Salvation Army ringers. The year prior, the local Salvation Army was able to raise $93,000 through the kettle system. The goal last year was $89,000, which was calculated for program continuation only.
The group met that goal, thanks to a matching grant.
“Did we make our goal? No, but yes,” Simco explained. “Our goal was $89,000 and we were able to raise $86,000 locally. However, there was a day on December 9 that Salvation Army, at our headquarters level, was doing a matching grant challenge. Because of the money we raised on December 9, it will put us over the $89,000 kettle goal.”
According to Simco, the extra will be around $7,900, which puts them at $94,000, just $1,000 over last year’s haul and over their goal.
Simco said that the weather hurt their fundraising efforts this year and they missed days, due to the polar vortex temperatures. Have they not had to work around that weather, he is confident that they would have met goal without the additional funds.
“I am very appreciative of our county’s willingness to give, so we can continue to provide the services we give to the community,” Simco said. “There were days we couldn’t even set up, due to the temperatures.”
Simco said that the kettle campaign is important to the organization.
“If we didn’t have the kettle program, we would definitely have to do things much more differently,” Simco said. “We would probably have to let go our youth coordinator that helps with the area youth.”
Simco explained that the money used to fund that position and program would need to be diverted into other important locations.
The youth coordinator focuses on extracurricular education, music, and more.
With a successful event, the Red Cross is readying to start a new year of events and programming that will shape the community for the better.
“We’re very excited about the new year. In fact, we were just meeting with our staff yesterday to begin our teenage programming next week or so. Tonight, our women’s ministry meetings begin. We’re definitely excited about getting back to a normal schedule of what we provide.”
The Simcos are excited to be moving forward, but do not take for granted the generosity of the people who support them during the season of giving.
“It is because the grace of god and generosity of people who have supported the ministry of the Salvation Army through the decades. We recognize that and appreciate what the community does,” Simco said. “We could not do what we do without the community’s support.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved