Red Kettle + Ringing Bell=Christmas Spirit

Danielle Lippert, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

I always knew it was the beginning of the Christmas season when I could hear the bells ring from the outside of the stores. I’d walk in and see a welcoming smile ringing a bell and wearing a red apron. It was always a constant in my childhood, seeing the red kettles scattered across every store I walked into.

The Salvation Army started ringing bells and collecting money in the red kettles over 125 years ago. It all started in 1891 when Captain Joseph McFee of the Salvation Army wanted to make a meal for over 1,000 underprivileged people but had no way to pay for it. He then remembered something he had seen in England: a big bucket set out for donations. He decided to use the idea and set out a kettle by the ferry landing. He had all the money he needed in no time. Within the next two years, the kettles spread throughout the West coast to over 30 locations. A few years later, the kettles expanded all the way to the East coast. McFee recruited two officers to help him keep track of the kettles and donations. The red kettle continued to grow, and the rest is history.

In eighth grade, my school started a service club. One of the projects suggested was bell ringing. I immediately took initiative over the project and spent the next few days recruiting people and setting up times for my classmates and myself to ring bells. I remember sitting in my living room with a computer and a notebook and booking times and writing them down for everyone to choose from. I finally was doing what I had always dreamed of doing as a kid. I was about to ring the bell.

I signed up my mom, my best friend and myself for a shift at the Bay Park Square Shopko. I was thrilled to walk up to the red kettle, throw on the apron and start ringing the bell. My best friend and I even started singing some Christmas songs. It made me more happy than I’d ever thought it would when someone dropped money into the kettle. I was helping make someone’s Christmas a little brighter.

The Salvation Army is always looking for more people to help ring bells over this holiday season. One kettle usually makes about $30 an hour. Two hours of ringing buys a week’s worth of groceries for a family of four. The money donated to the red kettles goes towards providing basic necessities, housing and much more to the people who need it in our community.

You can sign up to volunteer at locations around the Green Bay area on the Salvation Army’s website, and when you’re walking by a bell ringer by a red kettle, donate a dollar or two. You’ll be making someone’s Christmas just that much brighter.