”Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Silent Night.” ... The sounds of the holiday season are all around us on the radio as we drive to family gatherings and in stores as we search for that perfect gift.
But there’s another sound that accompanies the holidays, calling to us as we hustle out of the cold and into the warmth of the shopping experience.
The tinkling of the bell rung by those manning the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign.
The campaign dates back to 1891, when Salvation Army Capt. Joseph McFree needed funding to provide a free Christmas dinner to the poverty-stricken people of San Francisco.
Inspired by a memory from his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England, McFee placed a large kettle at Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street, accompanied by a sign that read “Keep the Pot Boiling.” He soon raised enough funds to feed the needy.
By 1897, the idea had spread all the way to Boston, and the nationwide effort led to 150,000 dinners for those in need. In 1901, the first of many massive sit-down dinners was hosted in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
Today, the Salvation Army assists more than 4.5 million people during the holiday season through your contributions to those little red kettles. Those funds also go to year-round efforts to help those in need.
And it couldn’t be done without those who donate precious hours of their time to man the kettles and ring the bell, reminding you that there are others who will go without this year.
So, dig in your purse or pockets for a little spare change to honor their efforts and make a difference for someone this season. And if you can’t find a few coins to contribute, give them a smile and a “thank you” for carrying on the true spirit of the season.