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Salvation Army to Launch Annual Red Kettle Campaign | Way of life






State Senator Gerald Hocker, right, and his wife, Emily Hocker, presented with a 2021 award by Salvation Army Lt. Miguel Alban for the Hocker family’s support of the Red Kettle Ringer program in their stores.



The annual Salvation Army Sussex Chapel Red Kettle Campaign will start on Monday November 14 and run until Christmas Eve, with volunteers and paid staff positioning themselves at around 30 locations across the county, standing next to the iconic kettle and ringing the bell, reminding shoppers to drop a few coins or notes and help those in need.

For the past few years the Salvation Army has hired bell ringers as employees, and this year they are offering them $11 an hour, but Major Phillip Davis of Sussex Chapel, based in Seaford said it’s not because volunteers are unavailable.

“A lot of people are still ringing the bell as volunteers, but the reality is Sussex County is huge. We have over 30 kettle racks, times six days a week, times the hours. It is difficult to have the kettles held by volunteers. It’s not so much because of the labor shortage, but life is different now. People don’t have that much time to volunteer, I guess. It’s harder to coordinate with some people.

“Although it may seem counterproductive to hire people to raise funds, it is a benefit for the community. These are people who could use the work, who could make money,” he told Coastal Point this week.

The practice of paying bell ringers began six or seven years ago, but volunteerism remains strong across the county. Members of Crossroad Community Church in Georgetown run two booths and St. Matthews By-the-Sea United Methodist Church in Fenwick Island also has a congregation with many volunteers.

“If I can help people not have to come to us for help, by helping them find a job, then I like that idea. Often I say, “You haven’t been in the job market for a while. You do that for a month or two months, and you can put that on your CV.’ It means something. If we can help people get back into the workforce, we definitely will,” Davis said.

This year, the Red Kettle campaign’s goal is to raise $200,000, about $100,000 less than last year’s goal because, Davis explained, “we’re making a conscious decision to change the how revenues are accounted for when they arrive at the kettles”.

“There’s money coming in – donation checks and so on – that isn’t cash. We are modifying the kettle to more reflect the money that is coming. That’s a bit of a level of concern for me. … I’m still concerned about the kettle workers there. There is a good amount of money. If we change our target to reflect a lower number, hopefully that will keep everyone safe,” he said.

Last year, the goal of $300,000 was reached.

Davis would not reveal the annual budget, saying it was a work in progress and he was not authorized to make it public.

The Salvation Army also receives funding from the USDA and has received funds from the American Rescue Plan Act “to help people stay in their homes, keep the electricity and lights on, and cover the expenses of our staff,” Davis said.

To further boost the Red Kettle campaign, the Jonas Brothers will perform live during the Dallas Cowboys football game halftime show at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Thanksgiving Day and remind Americans to stop at the kettles and donate.

The Salvation Army’s “Love Beyond” theme for 2022 “calls on the public to support their neighbors in need”.

“It comes from our national headquarters. There is always an artist, each year, to highlight the Salvation Army. We had Carrie Underwood. This year, it’s the Jonas Brothers. It’s always during the Thanksgiving game with the Cowboys. They’ve been sponsoring this for years,” Davis said with a laugh and saying that even the Cowboys’ most hardened opponent is touched by the team’s association with the Salvation Army.

The Red Kettle Campaign was started in 1891 by Captain Joseph McFee, a Salvation Army officer who was looking for a way to cover the cost of the community Christmas meal.

According to the Salvation Army website, McFee remembered his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England, when he recreated the Simpson’s Pot. It was an iron pot, and passers-by threw donations into it. He put one at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street, “where he could be seen by everyone coming and going from the ferries.”

By 1895 the kettle was in 30 locations along the West Coast and by 1897 the campaign was making its mark in the East.

That year, money donated to kettles in Boston and other cities meant 150,000 Christmas dinners for those in need.

A few decades earlier, in 1852, William Booth had decided to take the message of Christianity directly to the people by walking the streets of London and preaching to the poor and hungry. He and his wife, Catherine, trained evangelists and attracted followers determined to save souls. In 10 years, their Christian mission had more than 1,000 volunteers and evangelists.

When Booth read a printer’s proof of the Christian Mission’s 1878 annual report, he noticed the statement: “The Christian Mission is a volunteer army. He crossed out “volunteer army” and replaced it with the words “Salvation Army”.

Today, The Salvation Army operates in 131 countries.

Davis and his wife, Major Adela Davis, manage the Seaford office, with a staff of one full-time employee and two part-time employees, as well as volunteers. More volunteers are helping to provide Christmas gifts, meals and other forms of assistance.

“I’m proud to say that our soup kitchen is not your typical soup kitchen. People come here, and their worth, worth and dignity are affirmed. We have great people and we really enjoy serving them food. Now it’s open Monday and Thursday for lunch, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. In January it will include dinner with a bus service,” he said.

Meals are served at Seaford Headquarters, 22318 Sussex Highway.

In Delaware, the Salvation Army has offices in Seaford, Wilmington and Dover.