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Salvation Army Red Kettle Was Born in San Francisco

Published on: November 14, 2013

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The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle holiday tradition begins right around Thanksgiving and goes through Christmas. The effort involves thousands of volunteers heading for malls and busy stores where they stand outdoors ringing a handbell and thanking people who put change, coins and paper money into the slot of a red kettle positioned on a portable stand.

This holiday fundraiser for Salvation Army, now the second largest charity in the U.S. with total earnings of close to $3 billion annually, began with one simple goal–to feed 1,000 of San Francisco’s poorest individuals during the Christmas of 1891. ¬†Enterprising Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee couldn’t sleep at night, worrying about how he could get enough money to purchase food for meals to nourish the downtrodden. Hundreds of thousands had come to California during and after the gold rush, and some met poverty instead of riches. It was a big problem in San Francisco then, just as it is now. One night while praying for an answer an idea popped into McFee’s head–what about putting out a kettle at the ferry landing just like the one he’d seen at Stage Landing in Liverpool, England back in his sailor days? ¬†Read more…>

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