The Journey Continues: The Red Kettle Campaign
My journey towards Christmas takes me to the iconic Red Kettle Campaign of the Hays County Salvation Army. The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Program is remarkable. While many of us recognize the kettles, how many know of the humble beginning behind them?
In 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was distraught because so many poor people in San Francisco were going hungry. His prayer and hope was to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. But, as the history of the Salvation Army shares, he had no funding for this project. How could he find funds for his commitment of feeding 1,000 of the city’s poorest on Christmas Day? As he lay awake, his thoughts drifted back to his sailor days in Liverpool, England. He remembered how at the Stage Landing where the boats came in, a large iron kettle, nicknamed “Simpson’s Pot” stood on the dock where passers-by from the ships could toss in a few coins to help the poor. And the next day, he copied that idea. The success of that San Francisco kettle program spread quickly and today is celebrated and recognized around the world.
On the day after Thanksgiving, bell ringers and kettles were visible across many retail locations in San Marcos, Wimberley, Kyle and Buda. There are six opportunities in San Marcos, three in Buda, one in Wimberley and one in Kyle. Starting at 10 a.m., when stores open, and going until 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, volunteers ring those bells, wearing red aprons and Santa hats atop their outerwear. The last day to volunteer is Friday, Dec. 21.
As one bell ringer outside of Wal-Mart told me the day after Thanksgiving, “I use to come with my grandmother to help ring the bell; she is gone, but I am here to keep up our family tradition. Merry Christmas!”
That was the first "Merry Christmas” of the 2018 season for me; and as I put my change in her kettle, I realized that my giving is an investment – not only for those in need but also because I feel warmed by the Spirit when I share willingly with others.
Kathy McNiel is the Service Center Director for theHays County Salvation Army, located at 300 C.M. Allen Parkway suite 100.
She received confirmation of her ministry at the recent Chamber of Commerce banquet on Nov. 15, when the Salvation Army was honored as the “Nonprofit of the Year” in front of 600 guests. Director McNiel’s life verse is:
“The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatsoever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Matthew 25:40 (NIV)
To volunteer in San Marcos call Karen Kent at 737-213-9219 or for outside San Marcos, call McNiel at 512-557-3661.