The Red Kettle Campaign in our Community

December 3, 2013

One of the most iconic holiday sights and sounds is a red kettle and a ringing bell. Over the next few weeks, as you do your holiday shopping, you will probably see a Salvation Army donation kettle or two. You may even drop a few coins in as you pass. But have you ever thought about where your small donation goes?

The red kettles positioned in public spaces and outside shops and stores collect millions every year, raising $148.7 million last year alone. Here in Connecticut the funds go to local Salvation Army centers and are used to provide holiday dinners, clothing and toys for families in need. Sometimes funding even stretches beyond the holiday season and donations can provide aid for families, seniors and the homeless throughout the year. Last year, funding helped the response efforts after Superstorm Sandy, providing millions of meals, clean up kits and essential supplies to those affected.

I am proud to be ringing my own Salvation Army bell at the Walmart in Avon on Tuesday December 10 from 5-7pm. As I bundle up and grab my Bevin bell, something I plan to keep in mind is the history of this special holiday tradition.

The idea for the red kettles began in 1891. In an attempt to provide a free Christmas dinner for 1,000 starving people in San Francisco, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee needed to find a way to raise money. He was inspired by an iron kettle called “Simpson’s Pot” in Liverpool, England, where passers-by could toss in a few coins to help the poor. The idea was simple; ask for just a little donation from a lot of people. The results were amazing, as we see today with the continuation of the Red Kettle Campaign.

We have come a long way from the original campaign. Today, in addition to the 25,000 bell ringers and kettles across the country, you can create your own “online” kettle. On you can host a virtual kettle and invite family and friends to make donations directly through the website. The site allows users to create individual kettles, team kettles or even company-wide kettles – a great idea for an office fundraiser.

This season, you can even make a donation via text message. Simply text the word “KETTLE” to 80888 to send $10 to the Red Kettle Campaign.

For those who can afford to donate, keep in mind that a small donation can go a long way, and no donation is too small. When you choose to give a little, you are helping make big changes in your community.

For those in need this year, the Northwest Hills Salvation Army is a great local resource to help you find essential support during the holidays. Information about local hours and services can be found on or by calling the Torrington office at (860) 482-3569.

This holiday season, in between the shopping and the wrapping, find what inspires you and help those less fortunate than yourself. The Red Kettle Campaign continuously inspires me and shows how one person really can make a difference in someone else’s life; and how many people working together can transform a community.

It all starts with a little bit of spare change.