When discussing some groups for giving this year we mentioned the Salvation Army. We wanted to share more about this familiar organization to anyone shopping this time of year. The Salvation is an international movement, an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible, it ministry is motivated by the love of God, and its mission is to preach the gospel of JEsus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. The group was started in London, England by William Booth and his wife Catherine. In 1852 they started as wandering ministers trying to win the lost multitudes of England to Christ. By 1865 they stopped the street mission and set-up official shop. This is seen as the birth of the modern Salvation Army. Their first converts were made-up of thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards. In 1867 there were 10 full-time workers. By 1874 they had over 1,000 volunteers. They named the group “The Christian Mission” and the volunteers called Booth the General and referred to themselves as the “Hallelujah Army”. In 1878 Booth officially adopted the name Salvation Army. The group was a huge success in the UK, converting over 250,000 people from 1881-1885. This success soon spread to America.
In 1879 Eliza Shirley hosted the first meeting in the US in the city of Philadelphia. The group caught on quickly and successfully spread. In 1886 President Cleveland welcomed them to the White House. Soon after came the birth of the iconic red kettles. In 1891 Captain Joseph McFee promised to find a way to feed the over 1,000 needy people in San Francisco. He had no idea how to make his idea happen or how to pay for it. McFee remembered back to his sailor days in Liverpool and a large pot located in port to collect money for the poor. He created a similar pot in the bay area and raised the money to provide the meals. This idea spread nationwide fast, by 1897 over 150,000 people were provided meals. That idea in San Francisco became what we know today as the Red Kettle. Kettles can be found all over the world from Europe, to Korea and Japan, to Chile. Funds collected in the kettles are used to help with dinners, clothing, toys, and other financial assistance to those in need. Today more than 4.5 million people in the US are helped from the kettle giving from Thanksgiving to Christmas each year.
The Salvation also reaches out in other ways to help raise much-needed funds for their holiday efforts. For 2012 there are lots of ways to add to the bell ringers efforts. On December 8th, Walmart joined the efforts with their “Fill the Truck” Campaign designed to fill 18-wheeler truck trailers with toys for those in need. Hanes has partnered with the Salvation Army to provide 500,000 socks for those in need. J.C. Penney has their Red Kettle campaign that lets customers round-up their purchase to make a donation to the Salvation Army. Saturday, December 15th, at 7:30 PM PST you can log-on and tune-in for the annual Rock the Kettle concert. The concert will be broadcast live on-line from Los Angeles and features music from Hot Chelle Rae, Andy Grammer, Owl City, and more. For sure the Salvation Army is making sure their message is heard this Christmas. Please consider dropping some change in the next Red Kettle you see. If not, at least wish the bell-ringer a Merry Christmas!