History of the Red Kettle

Ever wonder where the Salvation Army red kettle came from?  The current day tradition started back in 1891 by Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee.  He was upset because so many people in San Francisco were going hungry for Christmas.  He wanted to feed them but could not fund the endeavor himself.  He remembered his sailor days back in England.  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.  He decided to try this out!

The next day he placed a similar pot at Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street.  He soon had enough money to feed 1,000 people on Christmas Day!

Within 6 years, the pots had spread across the nation to Boston and fed 150,000 people.  Today, the Salvation Army, with funds from those famous red kettles, feed over 4.5 million people a year on Thanksgiving and Christmas!

So, the next time you pass a red kettle, throw in a coin or two to keep the tradition alive and to help feed the poor during this beautiful holiday season.



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