Salvation Army’s kettle campaign kicks off this week

Published 4:54 am Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Albert Lea Salvation Army’s annual red kettle campaign fundraiser starts Friday.

“It started back in the early 1900s,” said Maj. Sandy Hunt with the Albert Lea location. “It started back in San Francisco, and it was a way to raise money to provide a Christmas meal for some sailors who were coming in from off of a ship.”

The kettle campaign has since grown as a way to provide Christmas dinners for families in need, as well as Christmas toys. The program now provides help year-round.

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According to Capt. Marie Lewis, this year’s Christmas campaign goal is $230,000, while the goal for the kettle portion is $116,000.

The Salvation Army described the need as significant in the community.

“Part of our Christian background is saying that we should be showing God’s love and helping others as much as we can,” Lewis said. “The kettle campaign and everything that this provides helps us to do that throughout the entire year between our food pantry and our meal program and various assistance things.”

Funds also assist people with their bills or other emergency assistance situations.

“Sometimes we help people with bus tickets to help them [if] they’re stranded here to help them get home,” Hunt said. “Or if they’re in an abusive situation and they need to be able to leave.”

Money also goes toward the organization’s food pantry and meal site.

But the program can only support others as long as they have funding, and this is one of their largest funding programs.

Besides the kettles, there is a toy collection — technically called an Angel Tree.

There is an Angel Tree to donate items to children 13 or younger. Anyone interested in helping that way can also visit saangeltree.org. Checks can also be sent to 302 Court St. in Albert Lea. Anyone interested in donating or volunteering can also call 507-373-5710.

Monday night there was a kettle kick-off with the Albert Lea Community Band at the high school auditorium.

“We want to thank them for their support,” Hunt said.

“If you don’t have cash on hand you can always pull out your debit card or whatever and bump them,” Hunt said. “Or your phones, you can bump them.”

“It’s helpful because people don’t carry cash anymore, or very few,” Lewis said. 

Red kettles will be at Hy-Vee, Bomgaars and Walmart.

To sign-up for a two-hour commitment to ring the bell, visit registertoring.com.

The campaign will continue through Dec. 24.

“We have some wonderful, wonderful supporters who have blessed this community,” she said.

According to Hunt, an anonymous donor will match all kettle funds up to $50,000.

“That is a huge, huge blessing for us and a huge blessing for this community because that will go and help a lot of people,” she said.