Red Kettle - Ring the Bell

It’s About Change!

The Salvation Army's most recognizable public effort is the annual Red Kettle drive. To millions it is the very essence of charitable giving.

During November and December, men, women and young adults will ring bells at over 40 Red Kettle locations throughout the Midlands area. Generous individuals may place monetary donations in the kettles to support year-round programs provided by The Salvation Army's area community centers.

History of the Red Kettle Campaign

In 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was troubled 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 difficulty to overcome -- funding the project.

As he contemplated the issue, he recollected 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.

The kettle idea quickly spread from the west coast to the Boston area. 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 most in need.

How to be a Bell-Ringer

Sign up to ring bells at The Salvation Army’s famous Red Kettles during the holiday season. Our Red Kettle Campaign in the Midlands begins during the month of November. You can sign up as an individual, family, church or group.

Sign up to Ring the Bell

Please call lisa Huffman (803-309-0436) or email ( with questions or if you need assistance registering to ring!

Volunteer Groups

High Schools:

Contact us to register for our annual High School Battle of the Bells competition.

Rotary Clubs:
Many Rotary Clubs adopt a day(s) for their members to ring and help The Salvation Army during the Christmas season. Previous Rotary Club participants have included: Blythewood Rotary Club, Columbia Rotary Club, Chapin Rotary Club, East Columbia Rotary, St. Andrews Rotary Club, Spring Valley Rotary Club and Vista Night Rotary.