While many local annual programs are now wrapping up this year’s collections in order to shift gears into distribution, one program that continues up to Christmas Eve is the Salvation Army's national Red Kettle campaign.

While many local annual programs are now wrapping up this year’s collections in order to shift gears into distribution, one program that continues up to Christmas Eve is the Salvation Army's national Red Kettle campaign.

In the thick of its 127th year, the Red Kettle campaign has thousands of red kettles manned with volunteers collecting donations Mondays through Saturdays through Dec. 24 at various locations across the country.

The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. Nearly 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: food for the hungry, relief for disaster survivors, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. For every dollar donated to The Salvation Army, 82 cents is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide.

Donations don't have to go into the red buckets around town, they also can be made online. To make an online donation, visit give.salvationarmyusa.org/.

How it started

According to its website, the Red Kettle program started like this:

In 1891, Salvation Army Capt. 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. … 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 McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street.

McFee’s kettle idea launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but all across the world –– to places in Korea, Japan, Chile and many European countries.