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Drew County Salvation Army preps for Red Kettle Drive

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Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2013 1:01 pm

The Salvation Army is preparing for its holiday Red Kettle fundraising with an appeal to residents to help out by organizing fundraisers and volunteering to take part in the organization’s largest fundraising efforts of the year.

“We are looking for people to be creative and get involved,” said Drew County Co-Chairman Justin Miller.

The Salvation Army is a Christian denomination and international charitable organization organized in a quasi-military structure. The organization began when William Booth embarked upon his ministerial career in 1852, desiring to win the lost multitudes of England to Christ. He walked the streets of London to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute.

Booth abandoned the conventional concept of a church and a pulpit, instead taking his message to the people. His fervor led to disagreement with church leaders in London, who preferred traditional methods. As a result, he withdrew from the church and traveled throughout England, conducting evangelistic meetings. His wife, Catherine, could accurately be called a cofounder of The Salvation Army.

“We are busy preparing our annual Holiday Kettle Drive,” Miller continued. “This year’s drive will once again take place at the entrance/exits of Walmart on the weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

The Kettle Drive began in 1891 when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was distraught because so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry. During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. He only had one major hurdle to overcome—funding the project.

Where would the money come from, he wondered. He lay awake nights, worrying, thinking, praying about how he could find the funds to fulfill his commitment of feeding 1,000 of the city’s poorest individuals on Christmas Day. As he pondered the issue, his thoughts drifted back to his sailor days in Liverpool, England. He remembered how at Stage Landing, where the boats came in, there was a large, iron kettle called “Simpson’s Pot” into which passers-by tossed a coin or two to help the poor.

The next day Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” He soon had the money to see that the needy people were properly fed at Christmas.

Six years later, the kettle idea spread from the west coast to the Boston area. That year, the combined effort nationwide resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy. In 1901, kettle contributions in New York City provided funds for the first mammoth sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a custom that continued for many years. Today in the U.S., The Salvation Army assists more than four-and-a-half million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time periods.

“Since its inception, the Red Kettle Drive is responsible for the largest part of funding the Salvation Army receives for helping local communities,” Miller added. “And we need a lot of volunteers to make it happen.”

According to Miller, the Drew County Salvation Army will also be suspending new applications for utility assistance for the remainder of the year in order to dedicate more time toward the drive. “However, applications for assistance will resume next year,” he said.

For more information, call 460-5460 or go to

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