Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Filling the Pot Salvation Army's Kettles Are a Venerable Tradition in Charity Fund Raising

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Filling the Pot Salvation Army's Kettles Are a Venerable Tradition in Charity Fund Raising

Article excerpt

The Salvation Army bell ringers with their tripods and kettles are woven into the fabric of Christmas in American cities as tightly as the Nativity and mistletoe.

Uniformed Salvation Army officers positioned on street corners and in front of department stores, post offices and saloons have been theatrically immortalized by George Bernard Shaw and portrayed on film by Clark Gable and Jean Simmons.

Salvation Army officers still stand beside the kettles in large cities in the Christmas season. They ring their bells, sing carols and are accompanied by trombones and entire brass bands. With an increased population, volunteers in cities and towns around the world have taken up the the kettle and bell-ringing. In St. Charles County they include church groups and civic organizations such as the Kiwanis and Shriners and a number of individuals who are sympathetic with the mission of the Salvation Army.

Whole families and even members of the Police Department take up the bells in the holiday season, says Salvation Army spokesman Carl Schaefer.

"The St. Peters Police department has a special program called Kops and Kettles, run by Officer Dave Kuppler," Schaefer said. "And we have lots of parents who bring their kids because they want them to have the experience of doing something for those who need help."

The kettle and bell ringing as a method of collecting donations was started by British sailor and Salvation Army officer Joseph McFee in 1891.

McFee hung a lobster pot from a tripod and stood on a Market Street corner in San Francisco with a sign that read "Keep the Pot Boiling."

The tradition soon moved to the East Coast, where a New York newspaper reported in 1898 that the Salvation Army kettles were "the newest and most novel device for collecting money."

"The kettle-and-bell-ringing Christmas tradition has been carried throughout the world," Schaefer said. "Even in the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street, they talk about the Salvation Army."

There are as many as 600 bell ringers in St. Charles County in the holiday season. Last year, the volunteers collected $63,000.

"This year, they're ahead of last year's pace even though this year's overall Christmas campaign is a tough go," Schaefer said. …

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