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The Story Behind the Red Kettle
Back in 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for San Francisco's many poor people. He had one major hurdle to overcome:
How would he pay for the food?
He lay awake nights, worrying and praying about how he would find the funds to fulfill his commitment to feeding the city's most destitute. From his days as a sailor in England, the captain remembered a large pot, called a "Simpson's Pot," into which passers-by would toss charitable donations.
The next day, Captain McFee placed a similar pot at Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, "Keep the Pot Boiling." He soon had the money to make sure needy people were properly fed at Christmas.
Captain McFee's kettle idea launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but all across the world.
Today, public contributions to the kettles enable The Salvation Army to bring the spirit of Christmas to people who would otherwise be forgotten - to the aged and lonely, the ill, the inmates of jails and other institutions, the poor and less fortunate.
Wherever you see our Red Kettles, let them remind you of what a difference your contributions mean for the poor.