The red kettle campaign, annually produced by the Salvation Army, has a total of 17 locations throughout the county.
Many might be familiar with the routine — a volunteer stands outside an area bustling with warm bodies with a tinkering bell, inviting the passerby’s to donate what they can to help those in need.
Few may know, however, the humble beginnings, and history embedded behind the philanthropic practice.
In 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee noticed the many affected by poverty in San Francisco and was determined to do something about it.
His solution was to plan a Christmas dinner to host the many starving and struggling on the streets, but he had no way of funding it — until he came up with the idea of placing an iron kettle called a Simpson’s pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing.
The notion has remained the same since then, and is the same concept that Henry County Salvation Army Director Doug McClure said has been most beneficial to countless children and families.
“We started the campaign [for this year] on Nov. 16,” he said. “We activated a lot of the locations before Thanksgiving and got more serious starting Black Friday.”
To successfully execute the fundraiser, McClure said year-round planning is involved, especially in terms of placing a mixture of both employees and volunteers with iron kettles in the various locations.
“We always hire a Christmas coordinator and try to raise as much money to provide 250 children with new toys for Christmas,” he said.
McClure has been the director for the past six years and has noticed an overall trend with the level of giving from residents.
“It’s always unfair that there are children that will not get anything for Christmas,” he said. “The great thing about Henry County is that everybody is so generous with their contributions. We do not want that to happen.”
The campaign will continue through Dec. 24, although toys will be delivered to children on Dec. 19 and 20.