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The Salvation Army Kettle Program Kicks off for the Holidays

Listen for the familiar sound of Kettle bells and give generously at one of 2,000 locations across Canada.

The Salvation Army accepts donations year-round, toward any program and in many ways—one-time gifts, monthly contributions, in honor of a loved one or through legacy giving are just a few ways to support the community-building organization throughout the year.

But The Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign is one of Canada’s largest and most recognizable annual charitable events. Nearly everyone has seen a friendly volunteer positioned outside one of 2,000 Canadian locations, like grocery or department stores, collecting donations and imparting a kind word.

“Funds raised through donations made at Christmas Kettles, together with other sources of funds, help provide direct, compassionate, hands-on service to over 1.9 million people each year in Canada, restoring hope and dignity to those who might otherwise remain invisible in society,” says Kim Findlay, Divisional Director, Development for The Salvation Army in British Columbia.

The funds raised stay in the community in which they were donated and are used to support local Salvation Army programs for people in need.

More than 100 Years of Giving

The Kettle program began in 1891 when Captain Joseph McFee wanted to help the help the vulnerable in San Francisco, especially during the Christmas season. To fund this endeavor, he thought back to his earlier days in Liverpool, England, where passengers of boats that docked nearby were able to toss coins into a large kettle to help the poor. Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing and encouraged the public to “Keep the Pot Boiling.” That year, he collected enough to host a Christmas dinner for the poor.

The first time a Kettle was used in Canada was in Toronto in 1903.

Give to Touch a Heart

For many Canadians, the Christmas Kettles are their only point of contact with The Salvation Army all year. According to public opinion polling, more than half of all Salvation Army donors list “giving to a Christmas Kettle” as their primary method of giving to The Salvation Army.

Christmas Kettles will hit the streets in mid-November, and individuals can donate by either gifting cash or using their credit card with The Salvation Army’s tiptap system throughout the holiday season.

“Just listen for the sound of the famous Kettle bells and you will find a Christmas Kettle near many of your favourite stores,” Findlay says. “People can also donate online at

The Gift of Time

Right now, The Salvation Army is looking for volunteers who can help by becoming a Kettle Host.

“Our volunteers often have great things to say about their experience and how meaningful it is,” says Sipili Molia, Regional Kettle Manager. “By volunteering with The Salvation Army and our Christmas Kettles they know they are helping us feed, clothe and shelter those in need, while helping others escape violence and addiction.”

Grant was a self-diagnosed introvert, anxious about meeting people and kept from volunteering opportunities by his struggles with personal interactions. Today, he has conquered introversion through volunteering at a Salvation Army Christmas Kettle.

“Interacting with people was always hard for me,” Grant says. “When I started to volunteer at the Army’s Kettle, speaking to others got a little bit easier.”

Grant volunteers at his Kettle six days a week, sometimes up to eight hours a day. He says it’s important to be a good listener and has learned a lot about the The Salvation Army’s work.

“People tell me about situations such as how The Salvation Army saved them from a life of addiction or helped with meals after a disaster,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot about The Salvation Army from standing at the Kettle.”

At 13, Linda B was in a school-bus accident. Severe damage to her leg resulted in more than 300 surgeries. Over the years, the pain was unbearable, and the anxiety was intense. But she found ways to move forward.

“At 18, I started volunteering at a Salvation Army Christmas Kettle,” Linda B says. “This is my 48th year.”

At 41, her leg was surgically removed, but this didn’t change who she was. What she had on the inside still shone through.

“I love helping people and putting a smile on their faces. Volunteering on the Christmas Kettle has allowed me to do that.”

Through volunteering, Linda B found acceptance and a sense of purpose.

“Sometimes people see the chair, but they don’t see me,” she says. “Volunteering helps me to feel valued and has increased my sense of self-worth.”

The Salvation Army offers group and corporate Kettle volunteer opportunities, so colleagues, friends and family can get together to enjoy a fun day of hosting a Kettle for a great cause.

Those interested in joining the Army of Givers can learn more and sign up at or email

Help Needed All Year Long

Christmas Kettles may only make appearances during the holiday season, but The Salvation Army’s programs and services are offered year-round. Support from the public is vital.

Anyone interested in learning more about what The Salvation Army does and how they can support them can visit

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