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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


Daily Boost

December 9, 2013 - Red Kettles and Christmas

By William E. Richardson

Along with Christmas cards and caroling, dropping donations into Salvation Army red kettles has become an annual holiday tradition.

A Salvation Army captain set up the very first donations bucket at a San Francisco ferry landing in 1891.

For more than 120 years, people have dropped dollars and loose change into the kettles. Sometimes, something besides money lands among the cash — a gold coin or a diamond ring.

Proceeds from the very first donations kettle provided a Christmas meal for the poor. Today, money raised goes toward food, clothing, and toys for needy families at Christmas. The donations also flow into the rest of the year, helping those facing various personal crises.

From the start, the Salvation Army has reached out to the poor. Not simply as a humanitarian organization, but as a Christian one.

In 1865, William Booth founded what became the Salvation Army in London. His vision was to relieve the suffering of those in need in obedience to Jesus' teachings.

One of many Scriptures reflecting the Salvation Army's mission statement is Matthew 25:35,36. The Lord's words in those verses are, “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” (NKJV).

The Red Kettle Christmas Campaign is the Salvation Army's best means to raise funds, enabling the organization to fulfill its service to Jesus Christ.

How many people in America stand somewhere beside a red kettle each year ringing a bell? No less than 25,000 volunteers.

How much money is raised through the program? In 2008, the Red Kettle Campaign brought in a record $130 million.

Has the idea caught on in other nations? The Christian concept, begun in obedience to Jesus' command to help the needy, has become a tradition throughout the world.

The red kettles sitting under a sign with the logo of the red Salvation Army badge can be found in Europe, Asia and South America.

The organization's presence around the world allows it to shine Christ's light into many difficult situations. The Salvation Army extends aid in various forms during times of national as well as individual crises.

Most Americans may associate giving to the Salvation Army outside retail stores. Those locations have proven to be very profitable. A new twist to dropping donations into the red kettle is using the desktop model. It's small enough to be placed on top of any business counter or office desk.

Then there's giving online, an option the Salvation Army prefers. It cuts costs and allows donors to give more than whatever loose change is in their pocket at the time.

New giving methods were initiated in 2008. For the first time, donations were accepted via credit or debit cards. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter became another first-time method for giving.

An important part of the red kettle program is to use whatever money is given in a community toward needs within it. When someone gives money via a red kettle, they can be assured their donation will be used to minister in local situations.

In a similar manner, local Assemblies of God churches use the Christmas season to collect funds and resources to help the needy in their communities. If your church is coordinating such an outreach, prayerfully consider what you can contribute.

— William E. Richardson is senior pastor of Afton (Iowa) Assembly of God and blogs at



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