The History of the Red Kettle

In 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was distraught because so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry. During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. He only had one major hurdle to overcome — funding the project.

6eb0fcc0-edd3-4615-9474-ba435cd80b95_redkettle2Where would the money come from, he wondered. He lay awake nights, worrying, thinking, praying about how he could find the funds to fulfill his commitment of feeding 1,000 of the city’s poorest individuals on Christmas Day. As he pondered the issue, his thoughts drifted back to his sailor days in Liverpool, England. He remembered how at Stage Landing, where the boats came in, there was a large, iron kettle called “Simpson’s Pot” into which passers-by tossed a coin or two to help the poor.

The next day Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” He soon had the money to see that the needy people were properly fed at Christmas.

Six years later, the kettle idea spread from the west coast to the Boston area. That year, the combined effort nationwide resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy. In 1901, kettle contributions in New York City provided funds for the first mammoth sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a custom that continued for many years. Today in the U.S., The Salvation Army assists more than four-and-a-half million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time periods.

Captain McFee’s kettle idea launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but all across the world. Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile and many European countries. Everywhere, public contributions to Salvation Army kettles enable the organization to continue its year-round efforts at helping those who would otherwise be forgotten.

Join us at our 2015 Red Kettle and Angel Tree Kickoff at the Tamarind Park.

Join us at our Red Kettle & Angel Tree Kickoff next Monday!

KETTLEKICKOFFEach year, we ring bells to raise money for programs and services that help those in need all year round. We are also kicking off our Angel Tree program with Central Pacific Bank! Join us next Monday as we kickoff the holiday season with live music, a friendly four-corner challenge between Hawaii’s top banks, and more!

Changing lives one plate at a time


Corps Community Centers on Oahu, Hawaii Island, Kauai, Maui, Molokai, Guam, and Saipan open their hearts and doors to feed hungry neighbors each year. “Helping those in our community have a more joyful Thanksgiving Day is what makes our holiday season fulfilling. Many businesses and individuals help us to make it possible. We want to reach and encourage those in need and let them know they are not alone; there will always be someone there to care and help them,” said Sarah Sloan, who is a coordinator for the annual Thanksgiving dinner on Oahu. “It’s really the community donations, schools, corporate partnerships, and volunteers that drive the success of our event,” adds Colleen Itano, a coordinator for the signature Salvation Army event on Oahu. More than 800 people volunteer for the Oahu event, for most, it is a family tradition to volunteer together during the holiday.

“You’ll see people who have nowhere to go for a hot meal – seniors, children, individuals and families – anyone who is looking for a place to belong and want companionship come to our tables. No one is turned away at The Salvation Army’s Annual Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s a festive event, with decorations contributed by school children, as well as entertainment provided by volunteers during the meal.” said Itano. The Salvation Army’s Annual Thanksgiving Dinner not only provides a hot meal, but has also provided blood pressure screening and spiritual services as well.

Thanks to our supporters and volunteers across Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan, The Salvation Army’s Annual Thanksgiving Dinner is able to feed thousands in the islands and offer them resources. Many families have benefited from attending the annual dinner. “My wife and three kids came to this dinner last year. I found the courage to ask one of the staff about assistance for food on a weekly basis and they pointed me towards their Family Services Office in town,” said John Silva. “In just a short time, I found a better job and we’re doing well.”

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Visit our website to view a list of locations for Thanksgiving Dinner.


Feed a family in need with Foodland’s Share A Holiday Feast program!

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BIG MAHALO to Taizo and Living 808 TV for helping us get the word out on our partnership with Foodland Hawaii for the Share A Holiday Feast program that feeds thousands across Hawaii each holiday season! You can feed a family for a small donation at any Foodland checkout stand. Catch Major Jonnette Mulch on KHON2 this Friday at 8:10 a.m. for more on how Share A Feast makes a difference!


A Message from Our Divisional Leaders


Aloha to our Salvation Army ‘Ohana,

This week we honor the brave men and women who have served our country. In honor of Veterans Day, our Kroc Center will open their doors to all active and retired military, and first responders (police, fire, paramedics) for free tomorrow, Nov. 11. Learn more here.

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If you’re flipping through the pages of Hawaii Business on the newsstands, you might come across an article on Major John Chamness and The Salvation Army’s initiative to stem poverty at its core through helping homeless families find stable jobs, safe homes, and a community of support. This initiative, the Pathway of Hope, is still going strong since it first launched in April. Our goal is to have 50 families on our caseload by the end of the year. We encourage you to pick up the latest copy of Hawaii Business and read how we are tackling the homeless issue in our islands by visiting your nearest local newsstand or subscribe online.

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This holiday season has arrived sooner than we expected! Our programs and corps across the division are gearing up to serve thousands on Thanksgiving Day. We are so grateful for the community donations and volunteers that have come together to help us host a dinner open to anyone who is hungry or simply in need of fellowship. For a listing of our Thanksgiving Dinners across the division, visit our website.

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What would the holiday season be without our iconic red kettles? Be on the lookout for our red kettles at Walmart or CVS Caremark/Longs Drugs. If you’d like to be a virtual bell ringer, you can also donate to our Online Red Kettle by texting “HIKETTLE”to 71777 or simply visit our website and start your own red kettle that you can share with friends.

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If you’d like to give to a keiki or kupuna in need this holiday season, our Angel Tree program is the best way to fulfill someone’s Christmas wish. Central Pacific Bank and Hawaii News Now have partnered to have Angel Tree tags that you may pull and fulfill from Nov. 23 to Dec. 16.

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If you prefer to give monetary donations so that we can fulfill their wishes, Burger King and Aloha United Way will be taking in donations at all Burger King locations in Hawaii from now until Dec. 13.

Mahalo and God Bless,

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Majors John and Lani Chamness