As Christmas traditions go, the 129-year-old Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign is one of the most recognizable. Local Rotarians have been ringing bells on behalf of the Salvation Army for more than two decades.
The three Burnet County Rotary Clubs — Marble Falls, Daybreak, and Burnet — have posted volunteers at the doors of the Marble Falls Walmart, 2700 U.S. 281 North, through Christmas Eve. Proceeds from the local campaign are split between the Salvation Army’s Burnet and Marble Falls service units.
All of the money raised “is used to assist people in need of groceries, utility and rent assistance, lodging, and other living needs on an emergency basis,” said Preston Ingram, chairman of the Burnet service unit.
The Red Kettle fundraiser was started in 1891 by Salvation Army Capt. Joseph McFee to provide free Christmas meals for the poor and hungry in the San Francisco area. He based his idea on a tradition he had seen in Liverpool, England, when he was a sailor. People would toss coins into a large pot by the landing to help the poor.
For his charitable concept, McFee placed a pot near Oakland Ferry Landing with a sign reading “Keep the Pot Boiling.” Within six years, the idea spread across the country and is now a hallmark Salvation Army fundraiser.
This year, amid a pandemic, Rotary Club members were initially concerned the bell ringing might not happen.
“I am so thankful that Walmart and the Salvation Army have let the bell ringing go on this year,” said Brooks Blake, the local Rotarian coordinator of the effort. “We were worried that COVID would shut it down. For our ringers, we have made available disposable face masks and face shields.”
They even cut a larger hole in the kettle so it’s easier to drop money into it, he added.
Currently, the Rotarians take two-hour shifts at the kettles. Ingram said it’s been a great experience.
“I’ve worked a shift this past Friday (Dec. 11) and was amazed at the response,” he said. “People seem to respect and are very generous to support the Salvation Army and our efforts to help people in need. I hope we can build on this goodwill to bring our communities closer together as we try to help address the growing need we see this year.”
You can also donate online or even host a virtual Red Kettle campaign.