Now that Halloween is over and Thanksgiving dinner is quickly approaching, the Christmas season is about to be in full swing. That means bell ringers with red buckets will soon be greeting shoppers outside area retail stores.

Now that Halloween is over and Thanksgiving dinner is quickly approaching, the Christmas season is about to be in full swing. That means bell ringers with red buckets will soon be greeting shoppers outside area retail stores.

These volunteers are fundraising through the Salvation Army’s Annual Red Kettle Campaign — just one way the nonprofit comes alongside Shawnee neighbors battling poverty — to help them succeed.

Salvation Army Shawnee Capts. Stacy and Patrick Connelly are gearing up for their holiday fundraising season and service to residents in Seminole, Lincoln and Pottawatomie Counties.

At the start of its 129th year, the national Red Kettle Campaign has thousands of red kettles manned with volunteers collecting donations Mondays through Saturdays through Dec. 24 at various locations.

This year, Salvation Army Shawnee's campaign goal is $100,000, which makes up just over 10 percent of the annual budget. Through donations from two families, the nonprofit is already more than 10 percent of the way to its goal, even before ringing the first bell this year.

How it started

According to salvationarmyusa.org, the 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.

To help

Volunteer opportunities are available to ring the bell or donate to help the Salvation Army fulfill its mission to do God’s work of helping those in trouble return to be self supporting and productive members of society.

To donate, volunteer or for more information, call (405) 275-2243.