CAMPAIGN LAUNCH – Major Larry Bridger of the Salvation Army speaks during the annual Christmas Kettle Campaign launch last week at Bower Place Shopping Centre.

CAMPAIGN LAUNCH – Major Larry Bridger of the Salvation Army speaks during the annual Christmas Kettle Campaign launch last week at Bower Place Shopping Centre.

Salvation Army launches annual kettle campaign

Local church hopes to raise $200,000 for various community programs

  • Nov. 26, 2014 4:37 p.m.

Staff with the Red Deer Salvation Army are still putting out the call for volunteers to fill spots with the annual kettle campaign.

The Red Deer Christmas Kettle Campaign was launched on Nov. 20th.

Funds raised are used to assist families and individuals at Christmas and throughout the year with a variety of programs and services.

By reaching this year’s $200,000 fundraising goal, the Salvation Army in Red Deer will be able to provide year-round food hampers, Christmas assistance, counseling, senior programs and summer camps in 2015, said Major Larry Bridger of the Salvation Army Church & Community Services.

Kettles are set up at Wal-Mart (north and south locations), Canadian Tire (north and south), Co-op (Deer Park), Scott’s Parable Christian Store, Parkland Mall by the Safeway entrance, Bower Place Mall, Save-On Foods (East Hill), Superstore and Costco.

Bridger said volunteers are needed for a variety of shifts. Anyone interested can call Debbie Lang, the Christmas Kettle coordinator, at 403-346-2251 or by email at

Bridger said at this point, volunteers are mostly needed for the 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. shifts. There are other shifts available, in two-hour stints, from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Last year, the Kettle Campaign in Red Deer pulled in about $190,000.

As for the campaign’s history, it started back in 1891 when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was distraught because so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry.

According to the Salvation Army web site, “During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. He only had one major hurdle to overcome — funding the project.

“He lay awake nights, worrying, thinking, praying about how he could find the funds to fulfill his commitment of feeding 1,000 of the city’s poorest individuals on Christmas Day. As he pondered the issue, his thoughts drifted back to his sailor days in Liverpool, England. He remembered how at Stage Landing, where the boats came in, there was a large, iron kettle called ‘Simpson’s Pot’ into which passers-by tossed a coin or two to help the poor.

“The next day Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, ‘Keep the Pot Boiling.’ He soon had the money to see that the 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. Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile and many European countries.”

Meanwhile, another seasonal event set for next month is the Santa Shuffle on Dec. 6th.

Those taking part raise pledges and tackle either the 5km Santa Shuffle Run or a 1km ‘Elf Walk’. Proceeds support Salvation Army Family Services programs. Registrations are being accepted at the Running Room in South Pointe Common or online at “Last year, it fell on the coldest day of the year – something like -38C.” Still, about 30 hardy folks showed up along with about 20 volunteers.

“This year’s event starts at 10 a.m. and it’s again at Rotary Park. We’ll have a fire going in the shelter there, and hot chocolate and muffins. It’s a fun event.”

Another initiative is the annual Adopt-A-Family. The application deadline is Dec. 12th. Families needing to register for Christmas assistance are asked to call 403-346-2251 during business hours and request to chat with Deanna or Taylor.

Bridger said the kettle campaign funds also support a backpack program, where volunteers fill backpacks with a variety of foods on a weekly basis for kids, which ultimately helps out their families as well.

“We pack the bags on Thursday mornings, and right now we have about 140 kids we are assisting each week.” The backpacks are delivered to about nine local schools. “We’ve had some very positive feedback from parents saying that this has really helped them.”

Meanwhile, Christmas dinner will once again be served at the Salvation Army Dec. 25th at noon. A Christmas Eve candlelight service also runs at 6:30 p.m.

William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army in London, England, spent years as a Methodist minister traveling around the country and preaching. He returned to London with his family, and one day in 1865 he found himself in the city’s poverty-stricken East End. He formed ‘The Christian Mission’ which was changed in 1878 to the Salvation Army.

By the time Booth died in 1912 the Army was at work in 58 countries. Today, the Army is working in about 120 countries.