Casey Coffield - 12.14.19

Bill Lemmon, an Indiana native, rings the bell for the Salvation Army. Lemmon, alongside other volunteers, can be seen collecting donations at Walmart and other shopping centers.

The red kettle originated in San Francisco by Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee. 

In 1891, McFee became burdened by the knowledge of San Francisco’s amount of homeless people. With his mind set on feeding the homeless that holiday season, McFee set out to create a project to fund this dinner. 

“The Salvation Army exists to meet human needs wherever, whenever and however we can,” according to the Salvation Army website. 

An iron kettle known as “Simpson’s Pot” is located in Liverpool, England, and is the inspiration behind the famed Salvation Army red kettle. After brainstorming and praying about how he might feed roughly 1,000 homeless individuals on Christmas Day, his mind drifted to this kettle he saw during his sailor days. 

Then, McFee was certain he has a sure-fire way of collecting a sizeable donation. The following day, he set out to display a similar kettle at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the end of Market Street. Paired with it was a sign he created reading “Keep the Pot Boiling.” It did not take long for this kettle to accumulate enough donations to feed San Francisco’s homeless people that Christmas Day. 

Over the course of the next six years, the kettle idea spread across the country, ranging from San Francisco to Boston. Soon, upwards of 150,000 homeless people were fed for the holidays. 

In 2019, in the U.S. alone, more than 4.5 million individuals are fed for Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Eventually, the kettle idea spread across the world, now stationed in 130 countries such as Japan, Chile, Korea and many European countries. 

The Salvation Army works yearround to support homelessness in all communities. They offer a few different ways for the public to get involved. If time is limited, anyone can easily donate online or through a red kettle which are always found outside of Walmart. 

With an accompanying store, people can donate lightly used clothing to help fund rehabilitation programs. A little goes a long way, and these donations can help to heal and change lives in the community. If you’d like to volunteer, visit and sign up to to create your own fundraiser that’s important to you. 

“This is a ministry I like because it gives back to the community and I find that a worthwhile cause,” said Karen, a Salvation Army Thrift Store attendant in Indiana. 

Other causes supported by the Salvation Army include: unemployment, addiction, domestic abuse and more. Twenty-three million Americans are assisted annually through the services provided by the Salvation Army. 

Rania Rashid (junior, biology) was unaware of where these proceeds went. 

“I never donate because I don’t have much myself and I was uninformed about their mission,” Rashid said. 

With this new information, Rashid said she is more likely to donate the next time she runs into a kettle ringer. 

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