Salvation Army of Southern California

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History of Red Kettles

In 1891, Captain Joseph McFee wanted to help the poor people in San Francisco; especially for the coming Christmas season, but he didn't know where to get funding for his project. He remembered, during his early days as a sailor in Liverpool, England, seeing a large kettle called "Simpson's Pot" where passengers of boats that docked at Stage Landing tossed coins to help the poor.

The following day, Captain McFee placed a pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing, beside the pot was a sign that read "Keep the Pot Boiling." He was able to collect enough donations to have a Christmas dinner for the poor people.

Captain McFee's idea spread and in 1897, a nationwide effort was able to fund 150,000 Christmas dinners for the poor. In 1901, donations from New York city funded a sit-down dinner at Madison Square Garden.

Today, bell ringers and red kettles are seen on many reputable stores and malls across the world. They use bells to attract the attention of passersby, some volunteers even sing Christmas carols or play musical instruments to raise donations. Some of the newer kettles even have a self-ringing bell and a PA system that plays Christmas carols.

Money collected through the red kettles are used to help the needy, the sick, the aged and other less fortunate individuals ALL YEAR LONG.

Regardless of religion or personal beliefs, The Salvation Army helps those struggling in their greatest time of need...and all donations, big and small help people in need!