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November 25, 2009 > Salvation Army kicks off annual red kettle campaign

Salvation Army kicks off annual red kettle campaign

By Alissa Gwynn

The Salvation Army Tri-Cities Corporation kicked off their annual Red Kettle Campaign Monday in front of Wal-Mart on Osgood Road in what Sheila Rhode, Salvation Army Sergeant, calls "a celebration of 118 years of Christmas Kettles in the Bay Area." The ceremony, attended by Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman and other city council members, featured a brass band ensemble and volunteers dressed as original kettle workers to commemorate the beginning of a campaign that began in 1891.

The Salvation Army raises money year-round to help those in need; yet the Red Kettle Campaign is one of the Salvation Army's most prominent fundraising events, for it raises most of the funding that provides the needy with food, clothing, and toys. During the campaign, which will run until Christmas Eve, volunteers wear red jackets and ring bells outside of various stores and collect donations in red kettles. In addition to volunteers from the Salvation Army and various other service organizations such as Kiwanis, the Salvation Army employs approximately 30 people to earn their own money during the holiday season. Rhode says, "It's a way for them to maintain their dignity and provide a happy Christmas for themselves."

An evangelical organization, The Salvation Army strives to motivate all people to embrace salvation through Christ. However, they cooperate with churches of all denominations to better the community at large. The Salvation Army's many services and programs, including relief for disaster victims, care for the elderly, and the combating of human trafficking, exemplify their motto of 'Doing the most good' within communities all over the world. Tri-Cities Corps, located in Newark, serves 800-1,000 people per month.

The Red Kettle Campaign first began in 1891, when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee, concerned about the poor living in the streets of San Francisco during the holiday season, decided that he wanted to provide a free Christmas dinner. Lacking money and resources to do so, he placed a pot at Oakland's Ferry Landing with a sign saying, "Keep the pot boiling," to collect spare donations from passersby. Soon enough, McFee raised enough money for the Christmas dinner, and the kettle idea quickly caught on across America. Since 1891, the Red Kettle Campaign has expanded internationally; Korea, Japan, Chile, and many European countries are involved in the campaign as well.

Last year, the Salvation Army raised a record-breaking $180 million nationwide during their Red Kettle Campaign to provide poverty-stricken Americans with toys, food, and clothing for the holiday season. They hope to have another successful fundraiser this year, for as Rhode points out, "Need knows no season."

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