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What do those Red Kettles you see at Christmastime mean?
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Starting in November, all across our nation, Red Kettles from the Salvation Army began to appear as they do each year. It has grown from the start in San Francisco in 1891.

Captain Joseph McFee, of the Salvation Army, felt led to provide a free Christmas dinner for the poor in his city. The challenge he faced was to raise the money needed. He thought of something he had seen while living in Liverpool, England.

There was a large iron kettle near the dock where the ships would arrive and those coming ashore would throw in come coins to help the poor of Liverpool.

Captain McFee decided to give that a go in San Francisco.

He put a similar kettle out and put a sign beside it that challenged those passing by to keep the kettle boiling. Soon he had enough to meet his self imposed challenge of feeding a thousand people.

In the years that followed the idea spread across the country, first to Boston, then New York, and of course to Covington. Now over four and half million people are assisted by the Salvation Army between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year.

You will find kettles in Covington near our area Kroger’s, Kmart, and Walmart stores. Jody Carver, who has been the director of Covington’s Salvation Army Center for the past eight and half years, says that all the money raised in the local Red Kettles helps people in our area throughout the year. It is the most successful fund raiser that our local unit has. With forty two percent of our citizens living in poverty there is a great need. These funds help with the food bank, clothing, and emergency funds for rent and utilities, Director Carver said that there have been more than 4,000 occasions since last Christmas where people were helped through these programs.

The Salvation Army began its work in Newton Country in the 1960’s as a group of volunteers. The present Center was opened in 1996. The Covington Center is the only one between Atlanta and Augusta on I-20. It is reaching and blessing many lives.

When you are caught up in all the hustle of getting ready for Christmas, let the sounds of the bell being rung beside the Kettles remind you there are those that need our help. A few coins may not seem like a large gift, but combined with those of your neighbors there were 4000 times last year that those in need where blessed. May I suggest that you consider giving some gifts that aren’t as noisy as coins; some bills would be nice, wouldn’t they?

The “Red Kettle’s” have become a great Christmas tradition and there is still time to keep the “pot boiling”. Your gifts will make a difference all year. It is one thing to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” and it is another to help make a difference in the lives of those in such great need.

Another way we can make a difference at Christmas is through the Angel Tree the local Salvation Army sponsors each year. You are given a child identified by both gender and age group. Along with the information is a wish list for that particular child. You bring the gifts back to the Army’s Center to be delivered before Christmas. Applications from over 400 families have been received this year for children and at risk older adults. About sixty additional children are helped who have a parent in prison. The total number to be touched by the Angels is expected to exceed the more than 800 that were helped last year.

Of course I hope you pause and help “keep the pot boiling”, but if you want to make even a greater difference, contact the local center and find out about you can make a difference. The Center is located 5193 Washington Street, You may call the Center at 770-786-2107 or online contact the Director at

B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington