Since the early 1900’s the red kettle and accompanying bell have been iconic symbols of The Salvation Army. It began in San Francisco as a response to many in desperate need. A Salvation Army officer (minister) saw this as a way to raise money to help the community. It was some years later before they were used at Christmas, also, to help local communities.
It’s hard to watch a Christmas movie, especially one set in New York City, without there being the site or sound of the Christmas kettle and bells. I was even in one of those (hardly seen) movies years ago as several members of the Salvation Army band in Ft. Lauderdale donned winter coats on the streets of Miami as part of the “Christmas scene”. Can you imagine Miami looking like New York City?
In recent years these iconic symbols have been disappearing. More and more merchants won’t allow them under the rationale “if we let you, we’ll have to let everyone.” I’m not sure how many others are wanting to put out red kettles to collect money to provide for others in the community but I get their point. A little.
Then there’s the run around from having to get permission from the owners of the shopping center (rather than individual stores). Those owners/management companies continue the run around or use the default answer of “if we let you….”.
For some stores, permission comes with restrictions: only 14 days during the month, you can’t start until the day after Thanksgiving and the newest one, no musical instruments at the kettle site.
The last comes from a large company who has been a favorable sponsor for years. It’s not just our long-time partnership, but who wouldn’t prefer musicians playing music over the constant tink, tink, tink, of a bell. (I know. I’ve rung them!)
The past few years have also been met with a unique challenge that I’ve been hesitant to write about for not wanting to give it more press. A vocal group has protested the kettles under the belief The Salvation Army discriminates against a group of people. We are not perfect but I can assure you, getting assistance from the Salvation Army is only based on need and our ability to fulfill it. For more information you can see here.
I’m telling you from my personal experience of being part of this organization throughout my life. The money raised at Christmas not only provides for needs at this time of year but for services throughout the year that The Salvation Army gives. Whether you support this organization financially or not, please support with your prayers. Prayers we will hear clearly God’s call as we head into a future with more challenges. And prayers we will continue to share his love through our actions more than our words.
From the archives. This was originally posted on December 23, 2012 (new photo of volunteer added 2013)