Red Kettle Club Inspires Volunteerism

Young Philanthropist Katie Wilkinson, first to the right of the kettle!

You might remember when we blogged about Katie Wilkinson back in October, a high school student from Tempe, AZ with a huge heart for The Salvation Army.

As founder of the Red Kettle Club (RKC) at her school – a group of young philanthropists who support the community year-round through The Salvation Army – and keeping up with the workload of her junior year, Katie is one busy lady!

I was able to catch up with her over e-mail to ask her a few questions about the newly-founded Red Kettle Club.

When did you start volunteering?

My family taught me at a young age that giving back to those in need is very important. Starting at three years old, my mom took my brother and I to the grocery store to pick out canned foods for hungry children. I began volunteering at The Salvation Army with my family when I was twelve years old helping distribute toys to families participating in the Angel Giving Tree program.

Spicin' up the bell ringing with some music!

What has the RKC accomplished so far?

On December 3rd, we rang bells at Red Kettles at our local Fry’s Marketplace for 10 hours. We invited multiple clubs and administrators on campus to come ring with us. We had an amazing turnout of individuals and participating clubs. We raised $1,300 in our 10-hour shift even in the freezing cold rain! We tripled the amount that was normally raised on a Saturday.

Club officers and members sort toys for the Christmas Angel Tree distribution in Tempe.

On December 19th and 21st, the Club bagged and sorted gifts for the Christmas Angel Tree Program at Salvation Army warehouses in Tempe and Phoenix.  In Tempe, we had the warehouse to ourselves, which made it so much fun! Everyone had such a wonderful time and was able to understand how many children are helped during the holidays because of The Salvation Army.

From your experience with the RKC, what do you think makes a successful fundraising campaign or event?

I feel that it is very important to make volunteering exciting and fun with hands-on opportunities. When we were ringing bells, I constantly heard from the volunteers that the time as flying by because they were having so much fun! It is important to have enthusiastic club officers who are excited about what they are doing, because that enthusiasm will spread.

Any struggles so far?

I have honestly not had any struggles with the club. Most high school students are so busy with sports and other clubs that it can be difficult to fit in volunteer work into their schedules. However, so many in our club have realized the importance of volunteering and have become very excited about it.

What’s your vision for the RKC?

We would really love to see the Red Kettle Club expand throughout the country. When I went to The Salvation Army National Board Meeting in San Diego, we discussed how we could expand. I donated the URLs and, because I feel that a website is the key to expanding the club nationwide. I would love it to become a well known club like National Honor Society or Key Club.

Club members smile as they ring bells during our Red Kettle Campaign

The best part of what you’re doing?

It is so amazing to see the community come together to achieve a common goal of helping others! It is so wonderful to see the smiles on the volunteers’ faces because they truly understand how important their service is.

If someone wanted to start a Red Kettle Club in their area, what are your recommendations for getting the idea off the ground?

The websites I mentioned above will be the key to informing people that would like to start a new club. It will eventually have all of the information on how to charter a club, contact their local Salvation Army Captain and find service projects in their areas.

Thanks, Katie!


Want to get involved in the meantime? Your local Salvation Army needs your help! You can find their contact info by visiting our website at