INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Everyone has seen them. Every year people come to expect them. They are in the malls and the grocery stores, accompanied by the sound of ringing bells. Starting Friday, November 12 the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle campaign kicks off at over 20 locations throughout Indian River County, ushering in the holiday season with six weeks of fund raising.
The proceeds from the campaign primarily help the Salvation Army’s numerous programs, including the mobile feeding canteen, social services, rental and utilities assistance, food pantry, and children’s after school activities for the 2011 year.
“Our year-round service provides help hundreds of people throughout the year,” said Captain Tim Delaney. “The kettles support our Christmas programs, but also support programs all year.”
The tradition of the red kettle is nearly as old as the Salvation Army itself, going back more than 100 years to San Francisco when Salvation Army Capt. Joseph McFee wanted to provide 1,000 free Christmas dinners to the poor but had no way to pay for it.
As the story goes, McFee positioned a large black pot on the docks near ferry boat landings, drawing donations from passersby and those who traveled by ferry, and the long standing tradition was born.
Indian River County’s branch of the Salvation Army has been providing Christmas assistance for the past 15 years. The local branch collected $144,000 last year through kettle donations and kettle sponsorships. It is bracing for a tough year with the increased demand on services.
Bell ringers are still needed for the six-week campaign, which will total more than 20,000 hours. Locations for Red Kettles include, Publix, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Post offices, Indian River Mall and Winn Dixie.
The “Kettle Kick-Off” will be held at the Christmas in Downtown Vero event on Friday, November 26 from 3:30 to 8:30 pm and is sponsored by TD Bank.
“Sally the Kettle will make an appearance again this year and mingle with the crowd during the celebration. There will also be holiday snacks and coffee provided by Doughboys Donuts” said development director John Corapi.
For information on how to help The Salvation Army this holiday season call 772-978-0265 or on Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/The-Salvation-Army-of-Indian-River-Co-Fla