Salvation Army bell ringers, beneficiaries need your help

Income from the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign surpassed the $250,000 goal in 2015, encouraging the director of the local office to aim for a higher number.

“We are hoping for $260,000 this year,” Major Vic Tidman told the Salisbury Independent.

“We are running low right now. We have had good volunteer participation, but we could always use more. I think the door count at local businesses is down. I don’t think there are as many people out shopping. It doesn’t seem to my ringers that there are as many people walking by the kettles. But we have a good God,” Tidman said.

Although the average donation is 78 cents, coins quickly adds up. “Every penny counts, from the two or three cents a little child puts in the kettle, to dollar bills the adults drop in,” the major said.

“All of the money it spent here locally. It’s all used for our programs. The first call is for our Christmas effort. We are helping 700 families with Christmas and over 1,200 children with Christmas gifts this year,” he said.

Local businesses also help.

“Perdue takes the names of several hundred of the kids. The electric company helps us and other businesses do, too,” Tidman said. Families in need must apply and be screened. Once approved, by appointment, they pick up gifts at the Salvation Army a few days before Christmas.

Ringers for the Red Kettle Campaign are still needed this year – especially those who don’t mind standing outside for a two-hour shift – and can schedule by calling 410-749-RING.

The familiar bell will be heard daily except Sundays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and until 4 p.m. Christmas Eve at about 40 locations in Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties.

The bell ringing campaign started in 1891, when the Salvation Army’s Capt. Joseph McFee wanted to raise money to have a free Christmas dinner for 1,000 poor people in San Francisco.

According to historical accounts, McFee remembered that, when he was a sailor in Liverpool, England, iron kettles were positioned where boats docked. Passersby tossed coins into the so-called Simpson’s Pots to help the destitute.

McFee put a pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing in San Francisco with a sign urging, “Keep the pot boiling.”

He raised enough to feed the hungry. Today, more than four million people receive help during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“The kettle campaign started very early on in our movement,” Tidman said.

“We call Christmas our Red Kettle Campaign. We get some funds in the mail from people who answer mail appeals. We get some walk-in donations. The Salvation Army raises about 60 percent of its budget during the kettle campaign, in the last half of October, November and December,” he said.

Donations can be mailed to the Salvation Army, 407 Oak Street, Salisbury, Md. 21804. Or, text “Give” to 410-202-0995 to receive, by return text, a form to fill out.

“We do need money but we have high hopes,” Tidman said.

“I’m never in the discouragement business. I’m the business of helping people and, you know, we always do the best we can with what we have to help a many people as we can.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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