Helping Others

Big donations fill Salvation Army red kettles, but recent disasters may shrink totals

A patron donates money as the The Salvation Army of Wilkes-Barre celebrated its season of generosity with its annual Red Kettle Kick-Off, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017 at Schiel's Market on Hanover Street in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., The iconic tradition of bell ringers and red kettles is the most recognizable fundraising effort for Salvation Army.
A patron donates money as the The Salvation Army of Wilkes-Barre celebrated its season of generosity with its annual Red Kettle Kick-Off, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017 at Schiel's Market on Hanover Street in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., The iconic tradition of bell ringers and red kettles is the most recognizable fundraising effort for Salvation Army. AP

Some generous philanthropists are going above and beyond for the season of giving.

With Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign underway, one anonymous donor dropped off $10,000 – in $100 bills – into a bucket outside a Fred Meyer store in Portland, OregonLive reported Thursday.

Not exactly pocket change, but no complaints.

Marcos Marquez, an administrator with the nonprofit, said red kettle donations contribute to about 40 percent of the annual budget for Moore Street Salvation Army in North Portland.

“We were behind. Now we’re looking like we might exceed what we brought in last year,” he told OregonLive.

Big red kettle donations are common, even via coins. Another anonymous donor gave a rare gold coin worth at least $1,300 at a grocery store in Gaithersburg, Mo., CBS Baltimore reported Thursday. Five gold coins, one of them worth as much as $300, have already been found in kettles near Fargo, N.D., this year, WDAY 6 reports.

A Roseville kettle received a Krugerrand – a rare, 1979 gold coin minted in South Africa – in 2015, The Sacramento Bee reported. That coin was valued at $1,100 at the time. That donor also remained anonymous.

The history of Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign dates back to 1891, with donations collected to “see that the needy people were properly fed at Christmas,” according to the organization’s website.

As Marquez alluded to before finding the five-figure donation in the kettle in Portland, Salvation Army’s donation totals have been down this year in various parts of the country, including Western Pennsylvania, Southern Indiana and St. Joseph, Mo., where funds raised as of Thursday were less than one-quarter the amount raised this time last year, St. Joseph News-Press reported.

This year’s major natural disasters, including Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Irma in Florida and California’s recent wildfires, may have an effect on Salvation Army’s totals, with donations rerouted to relief efforts rather than holiday giving.

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