The “miracle” of Christmas is repeated over and over again through the joy of caring and sharing. The traditional red kettle is an integral part of the Christmas scene, with millions of dollars donated each year to aid needy families, seniors, and the homeless.
Donations and financial assistance provide Christmas dinners, clothing, and toys for families in need, including families of prisoners.
Volunteers distribute gifts to shut-ins in hospitals and nursing homes, and shelters are open for sit-down dinners. The Salvation Army endeavors to bring spiritual light and love to those it serves at Christmas so that the real meaning of the season is not forgotten.
Many families receive aid over a period of months after the Christmas season, as well as people struggling with difficult family, emotional, or employment problems.
Because we want to respond to the varying needs of the communities in which we serve, all of our holiday assistance programs are administered locally. If you require assistance, you will need to contact your local Corps Community Center by using the location search on this page. Please note: Most locations begin registration as early as October, so it’s recommended you contact your local Salvation Army as soon as possible to inquire about registration dates.
The tradition of Salvation Army kettles began in San Francisco in 1891 with Captain Joseph McFee. Captain McFee was looking for a way to help provide meals to families in need and recalled “Simpson’s pot” – a large pot used in Liverpool, England into which passers-by threw charitable donations. Captain McFee decided to place a similar pot at the Oakland ferry landing. By strategically placing the kettle, he was able to attract donations from those going to and from the ferry boats. Not long after, a smaller urn was placed in the waiting area as well.
Now, over 100 years have passed and instead of providing just a simple Christmas dinner, the money raised at kettles is also used to provide clothing, shelter, toys, financial assistance and counseling year-round. The Salvation Army’s holiday fund-raising activities play a crucial role in sharing the spirit of the season with families in need. The Salvation Army does its best to ensure that no family goes without food, no child is without presents under the tree and that Christmas is a time of hope and healing.
The Salvation Army continues its mission to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination” year-round.