You are in: holiday programs

holiday programs

Send this page to a friend Email envolope

Our Annual Appeal at Christmas raises much needed funds for the work we do among the needy over the holidays. This includes providing food, clothing and toys for families to enable them to experience the joy of the Christmas Season. But your gifts do not stop there. Funds not expended for Seasonal Assistance are used throughout the year to enable our charitable work to continue to those in need.


Please contemplate two slogans we use frequently: "Need has no season" and "Sharing is Caring". Join with us in ministry to the less fortunate by mailing your monetary gift to the Salvation Army office nearest you and contributing to the Red Kettles when you pass them on the streets or in the malls.

Origin of the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle

Captain Joseph McFee had resolved in December of 1891 to provide a free Christmas dinner to the area's poor persons. But how would he pay for the food?


As he went about his daily tasks, the question stayed in his mind. Suddenly, his thoughts went back to his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England. On the Stage Landing he saw a large pot, called "Simpson's Pot" into which charitable donations were thrown by passers-by.

On the next morning, he secured permission from the authorities to place a similar pot at the Oakland ferry landing, at the foot of Market Street. No time was lost in securing the pot and placing it in a conspicuous position so that it could be seen by all those going to and from the ferry boats. In addition, a brass urn was placed on a stand in the waiting room for the same purpose.

Thus, Captain Joseph McFee launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but throughout the world.

By Christmas, 1895, the kettle was used in 30 Salvation Army Corps in various sections of the West Coast area. The Sacramento Bee of that year carried a description of the Army's Christmas activities and mentioned the contributions to the street corner kettles. Shortly afterward, two young Salvation Army officers who had been instrumental in the original use of the kettle, William A. McIntyre and N.J. Lewis, were transferred to the East. They took with them the idea of the Christmas kettle.

In 1897, McIntyre prepared his Christmas plans for Boston around the kettle, but his fellow officers refused to cooperate for fear of "making spectacles of themselves." So McIntyre, his wife and his sister set up three kettles at the Washington Street thoroughfare in the heart of the city. That year the kettle effort in Boston and other locations nationwide resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy.

In 1898, the New York World hailed The Salvation Army kettles as "the newest and most novel device for collecting money." The newspaper also observed, "There is a man in charge to see that contributions are not stolen."

In 1901, kettle contributions in New York City provided funds for the first mammoth sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a custom that continued for many years. Today, however, families are given grocery checks so that they can buy and prepare their own dinners at home. The homeless poor are still invited to share holiday dinners and festivities at hundreds of Salvation Army centers. Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile, and in many European countries. Everywhere, public contributions to the kettles enable The Salvation Army to bring the spirit of Christmas to those who would otherwise be forgotten -- to the aged and lonely, the ill, the inmates of jails and other institutions, the poor and unfortunate.

In the United States, The Salvation Army annually aids more than 4,500,000 persons at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Kettles have changed since the first utilitarian cauldron set up in San Francisco. Some of the new kettles have such devices as a self-ringing bell and a booth complete with public address system over which the traditional Christmas carols are broadcast. Behind it all, though, is the same Salvation Army message, "Sharing is Caring."

Volunteers needed

Every Salvation Army service needs dependable volunteers to help with the fundraising efforts as well as programs. If you can share time to assist in these efforts, we encourage you to contact The Salvation Army office nearest you.



Volunteers distribute gifts to shut-ins in hospitals and nursing homes, and shelters are open for sit-down dinners. The Salvation Army endeavors to bring spiritual light and love to those it serves at Christmas so that the real meaning of the season is not forgotten.


Many families receive aid over a period of months after the Christmas season as well, people struggling with difficult family, emotional, or employment problems.


The Red Kettles and bell ringers are perhaps the most visible community-wide Salvation Army program. However, during the holidays the results from the nickels, dimes and dollars put into the kettles provides needy families with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, gifts for children, coats and shoes for kids with none to wear, and visitation to the elderly and imprisoned who have no one to care for them. Other Holiday programs include:

  • Children's Angel Tree
  • Adopt-A-Family
  • Senior Angel Tree
  • Thanksgiving Dinner
  • Christmas Dinner
  • Pantry Food Drive
  • Holiday Food Baskets



Print version


Enter your search terms below and hit the 'go' button

Site Map Site Map

Quick Links

Find a Center

Enter your zip code to find your nearest Salvation Army




February, 2015
01 02 03 04 05 06 07
08 09 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Email Newsletters

Subscribe to our email newsletters.


spiritual information