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Altrusa members ‘keep the pot boiling’

On Saturday, Dec. 7, members of Altrusa donated their time to help ring the bell for Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign. (Submitted Photo)

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On Saturday, Dec. 7, members of Altrusa spent the day ringing the bell for the Salvation Army kettle program.

(Submitted Photo)

Around this time every year, we see the kettles start appearing in front of retail stores and grocery stores, but have you ever wondered how the program began? Here is the story as is told on the Salvation Army’s website.

“In 1891, 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.

(Submitted Photo)

“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 passersby 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.

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“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.

“Captain McFee’s kettle idea launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but all across the world. Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile and many European countries. Everywhere, public contributions to Salvation Army kettles enable the organization to continue its year-round efforts at helping those who would otherwise be forgotten.”

To date, the Salvation Army kettles in Roswell have raised over $19,000. According to Captain Niki at the Salvation Army, the money raised through the kettle program will be used to help families in Roswell. This money is used throughout the year to supply the local food bank, to provide vouchers for clothing and furniture at the local Salvation Army Thrift Store, to provide utilities assistance and to help with the purchase of items for children during the holidays.

If you are interested in volunteering to ring the bell, contact Captain Niki at the Salvation Army. And the next time you pass a kettle, please remember those who need a little extra this holiday season.

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