Mysterious Donations

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettles fill up with spare change and bills during the holiday season, but every year there’s a few unique and mysterious donations that appear. Here are a few that made our list in 2010:

South African Krugerrand

Krugerrands – A South African gold Krugerrand coin worth $1,100 was dropped into a Shreveport, LA Salvation Army red kettle. Two more Krugerrand coins were dropped into Salvation Army red kettles in Fort Collins, CO. Yet another was anonymously donated in Kauai, Hawaii. Who knew so many people have Krugerrands?

Wedding Band and Diamond Ring – This surprising donation was found wrapped around a $1 dollar bill in a kettle in Indiana.

In a similar incident in Minnesota, a woman donated her husband’s wedding band to a kettle, but it was on accident. Thankfully, she recovered it from The Salvation Army when she noticed it was gone from her coin purse. Whoops!

[Double Eagle Gold Coin]
Double Eagle Gold Coin

Gold coin, donated “In Loving Memory of Mimi.” For the past six years, an anonymous donor has dropped a $20 Double Eagle gold coin – wrapped in a note honoring Mimi – into one of South Florida’s Red Kettles. The coin, printed in 1928, is valued at $1,400.

Several other rare gold and silver coins have been donated to kettles all over the country!

Secret Santa donates $100,000

$100,000 from the North Pole – The Salvation Army received several extremely generous, anonymous donations in our kettles this year. One however, in Joplin, Missouri, came from “Santa Claus.” Five checks totaling $20,000 came from the jolly old elf, hidden in folded dollar bills.

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A Sudanese “Lost Boy” Finds New Family, Home with The Salvation Army

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Do you ever wonder, “Who are those people who so faithfully ring the bells alongside Salvation Army Red Kettles every holiday season? What is it that motivates each of them to serve?”

What makes many of these faithful servants unique is that many bell ringers have been on the other side of the social service system. They have first-hand experience at homelessness and going without – bell ringers like Peter Adup, one of the “lost boys” from Sudan who escaped to the U.S. as a teenager when his entire family perished due to political strife. He has no immediate family left, but The Salvation Army has become his family.

He currently resides at a Salvation Army homeless shelter, where he’s working to get back on his feet with gainful employment – perhaps even as a Salvation Army officer one day! In his free time, he volunteers every chance he gets, including as a bell ringer.

Peter Adup is recognized as Southern California’s “Bellringer of the Year.” (Photo from Salvation Army of Southern California’s Facebook album.)

For three years in a row now he’s been stationed at one of the highest trafficked kettles in Los Angeles.
Due to his contagious smile and amazing energy, his has one of the most successful kettles in town.

Despite all of the hardship Peter has faced in his home land – or perhaps because it – Peter’s desire is to pursue full-time ministry and return to Africa as a missionary.

His amazing attitude and contagious energy are evident to all, and those are just a few of the reasons the Southern California Division has named him “Bell Ringer of the Year.”

His is an inspiring story of triumphing despite all odds.

Information submitted by Dawn Wright from The Salvation Army USA’s Southern California Division. Thanks Dawn!

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Blizzard Forces Stop to Red Kettle Campaign for First Time in Minnesota History

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blizzard conditions have wreaked havoc across the Midwest since this weekend. By all indications, it’s BAD.

So bad that for the first time in history, The Salvation Army’s Northern Division has had to cancel bell ringing and pull Red Kettles from the streets and store fronts!

The unprecedented event even made the top headline on the national news website Drudge Report.

[Front page of Drudge Report]

The Northern Division, which covers Minnesota and North Dakota, is concerned the blizzard will put them significantly behind in fundraising, and they expect to be short $500,000 in the Twin Cities alone.

The loss of these funds will directly affect the work of The Salvation Army’s feeding programs, food pantries, homeless shelters and the countless other services they provide in Minnesota and North Dakota.

If you’d like to help The Salvation Army beat this blizzard, go to to learn how to donate to The Salvation Army’s efforts in the Twin Cities and all across the country.

Thanks for your help!

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Help Us Thank Our Amazing Partners!

Monday, December 13, 2010

If you’ve started to tackle your Christmas shopping, you’ve probably noticed our Salvation Army red kettles are out in full force. There’s going to be around 25,000 workers and volunteers this season collecting donations in front of your favorite stores.

This iconic tradition and vital fundraiser started in 1891 in San Francisco would not be the same without the generous support of the businesses who welcome Salvation Army bell ringers and kettles outside their doors.

Have you noticed that everyone you know recognizes a Salvation Army bell ringer and kettle? That’s because thanks to these businesses kindly sharing their space with us, we’ve been able to significantly raise awareness of need in your local community and our efforts to serve that need.

In fact, this broad visibility has contributed to The Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign being known as one of the most enduring and recognizable fundraising campaigns ever.

As if that weren’t enough, many of these stores even match kettle donations or contribute their own!

Here at The Salvation Army we want to offer a huge THANK YOU to all the stores who welcome our red kettles. Thank you for believing in our cause and giving us the opportunity. We’re proud to partner with you in serving our communities.

Next time you see a kettle outside a store, we encourage you to let the business know how much you appreciate their support of The Salvation Army. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them!

Below is a list of our national store partners. This list is not exhaustive, as there are many more regional and local businesses who participate in our Red Kettle Campaign as well:

* Big Lots
* Bloomingdale’s
* Hobby Lobby
* JCPenney
* Kroger
* Macy’s
* Sam’s Club
* Simon Malls
* Walgreens
* WalMart

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Some Tips from the Reigning Online Kettle King

Thursday, December 9, 2010

We know. Salvation Army bell ringers are probably all over the place in your town! but there’s even more of them that you don’t see because their kettles are all online.

Yep. Virtual bell ringers.

And Jim Cummings from Denver, CO seems to be the virtual kettle king. So far this season his online kettle has raised a hefty $52,000, nearly 75% of his $70,000 goal. The guy’s good!

So good, in fact, that this is actually his 5th year in a row to raise the most money for an individual online kettle. As you recall, this Thanksgiving his efforts earned him a trip to our Red Kettle Kickoff in Dallas. In past years his outstanding kettle also won him another trip to Dallas to attend The Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board Conference. Jim is on the Salvation Army Advisory Board for Metro Denver where he is 1st vice chair.

[Jim Cummings]
Jim hands out and posts cards encouraging people to donate to his online kettle. This is one side…

How’s he do it? Jim does a great job of reaching out to friends, family, and coworkers through email to encourage them to help him fill his online red kettle. And even something as simple as an email pays off big.

“I am a retired partner of Deloitte and a large portion of my gifts come through present and past Deloitte personnel from all over the world,” he says. “I have received gifts this year from Hong Kong, UK and Germany.”

But as many contacts as Jim already has, he’s not afraid to enlist the help of acquaintances.

Jim regularly volunteers with a real bell and kettle at Walmart and the mall. When people pass by or donate their change, he hands them a card he pre-printed with information about how to donate to his online red kettle. They may forget Jim’s name and web address by the time they get home, but they’ve got the handout to remind them! He also posts the cards at various places like Starbucks and church.

[Jim Cummings ]
…and this is the other.

How does he feel after all that work?

“It was a lot of fun,” he admits. “A lot of people wanted to see me win.”

His impressive record has earned him a special nickname from his church pastor:
“#1 ding-a-ling.”

So what advice can Jim give someone who wants to support The Salvation Army but doesn’t think standing on street corners with a bell and kettle is their thing?

He recommends do it all online by hosting you own virtual red kettle. The website is easy to work with and raising support is as simple as sending an email to friends and family.

To start your own individual or team (yes, get others involved too!) kettle, visit

Who knows, maybe next year you’ll give Jim a run for his money for the 2011 title of #1 ding-a-ling.

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Get Ready To Rock the Red Kettle with These Rock Bands

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Salvation Army has a lot going on at Christmas time, but this year we’re trying something completely new, and we have a feeling that it’s going to be awesome.

It’s our inaugural Rock the Red Kettle Concert, happening in only one week!

On Wednesday, Dec. 15 at 7pm PST at The Americana at Brand Shopping Center in Glendale, CA, the hottest new young rock bands are going to perform together for this FREE concert open to the public. We’ll stream the whole thing LIVE from so you can even watch from your computer.

The hit lineup includes:

With this concert we want to reach and inspire a younger generation of philanthropists.

Plenty of kids, tweens, and teens are looking for opportunities to make a difference and get behind a worthy cause, so with the help of these bands, The Salvation Army is going to show them how to do it.

In between songs and sets, the audience will get to know more about the good the Army does and how the technology they use everyday can be tied in to support our mission. We’ve got everything from online red kettles, a Text to Give initiative, an iPhone bellringer app, and Facebook and Twitter pages ready to be harnessed by the tech saavy teenage masses!

Check back with our blog next Wednesday when we’ll post the live streaming video.

It’s guaranteed to be a rockin’ good time. You won’t want to miss this!

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Check Out These Ringers

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

We’ve been hearing about some unique Red Kettle bell ringers who are using creative approaches to help raise more money for Salvation Army services in their communities.

These ringers will make you take a second look if you pass by their kettles.

Tinker the Tiny Horse. She doesn’t have hands but she still manages to ring for hours. Watch video

Elvis Presley -The King lives afterall…singing and ringing and shakin’ his hips at Wal-Mart. Watch Video

Union Soldiers Vs. Confederate Soldiers – They’re at it again, but this time they’re fighting for bragging rights of best Red Kettle fundraiser. Read more

Dallas Cowboys Football Players vs. Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders – This team is even competitive off the field…but do they stand a chance against the ladies? Read more

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The Story of the Red Kettle

Thursday, December 2, 2010

We’re officially in the Christmas season, and chances are you’ve seen or will soon see our Salvation Army Red Kettles and bell ringers while you’re out and about.

Our Red Kettles have become a holiday icon – just ask anybody about them and they’ll know what you’re talking about. But do you know how this tradition started?

Today I thought it would be helpful to share the history of The Salvation Army’s Christmas Red Kettle Campaign to give you a deeper understanding of the heart behind this century-old tradition. Here goes:

In San Francisco during December of 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner to the area’s poor, but he had no way to pay for all that food from his own pocket. So the question remained, how would he do it?

His thoughts went back to his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England. On the Stage Landing he saw a large iron kettle called “Simpson’s pot” into which passers-by dropped charitable donations.

The next day he received permission to place a similar kettle at the Oakland ferry landing. No time was lost in securing the pot and placing it in a conspicuous position, so that it could be seen by all those going to and from the ferry boats. Beside it he placed a sign that read, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” Word spread of his endeavor and he quickly raised the funds to feed 1,000 of the city’s poorest individuals on Christmas day! But he didn’t end it there.

By 1985 the kettle was used in 30 Salvation Army locations along the West Coast, and shortly after they spread to the East Coast. In 1897, the kettle fundraising campaign in Boston and other cities helped pay for 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy.

Thus, Captain McFee launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but throughout the world.

Today, donations raised through our Christmas Red Kettle Campaign fund a vast range of Salvation Army programs and services that serve 30 million Americans year round.

So remember, when you’re dropping a donation in to a Red Kettle, you’re continuing a long standing tradition, but most importantly, you’re making it possible for The Salvation Army to continue to serve the those most in need.

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Congrats to Our Kettle Contest Winner! See you in Dallas

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Congratulations to Jim Cummings, the big winner of our Online Red Kettle contest!

Jim has won an expenses-paid trip to Dallas where he’ll be in the middle of all the Thanksgiving Day action straight from the seats of Cowboys Stadiums. That includes a rocking performance by Keith Urban during our Red Kettle Kickoff halftime show and a must-see match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and defending Super Bowl champs, the New Orleans Saints.

Of all individual online red kettles, Jim’s raised the most money, receiving donations all the way from Hong Kong, UK and Germany. Thanks Jim, for your work in helping raise funds to support Salvation Army services for those in need!

The contest may be over, but we still need virtual bell ringers! You can start your own online red kettle by registering at

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Tomorrow: Red Kettle Kickoff, LIVE from Cowboys Stadium!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

[Keith Urban]
Keith Urban will perform for The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Kickoff during the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game halftime show. Game airs LIVE at 3:15CT/4:15ET on FOX.

Tomorrow’s the big day. Yes, Thanksgiving, but also…

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Kickoff! The event marks the official launch of our Christmas fundraising campaign, and as always, we’re doing it up BIG!

We’re teaming up with the Dallas Cowboys (marking 14 years of partnership)to bring you an amazing halftime show during their Thanksgiving Day game versus the New Orleans Saints. Three-time Grammy Award winner Keith Urban will be the featured performer, rocking the stadium out with hits from his new album.

The Cowboys Game and Kettle Kickoff Halftime Show will air LIVE on FOX at 3:15CT/4:15ET.

So whether you’re gearing up for or winding down from your turkey dinner, be sure to tune in!

A scene from the 2009 Red Kettle Kickoff with Daughtry.

As part of the campaign, more than 25,000 Salvation Army workers and volunteers across the country will ring bells and collect donations for people in need with our iconic red kettles. Over the years your generous contributions have helped us serve 30 million Americans each year, and last year you outdid yourselves – giving a record $139 million to our Red Kettle Campaign! Maybe this year we can surpass that too…but we’ll worry about breaking records later.

For now, enjoy your Thanksgiving, and enjoy the halftime show! We hope it will become a part of your family’s annual turkey day traditions.

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