Salvation Army takes red kettles to cyberspace

Sure, you can drop your spare change into a Salvation Army red kettle just like you, and millions of other Americans, have done for more than a century now.

But if you’re of a more techie stripe, drop a digital coin or two into a Salvation Army virtual red kettle ( Either way, don’t forget to share the motivation for your Yuletide selflessness by posting a selfie and a few words on a Salvation Army Twitter site (#redkettlereason) unveiled for this Christmas season.

It’s a far cry from ringing a bell — though that’s still going on — and it’s all part of The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, gussied up for a digital future while retaining the charm of its beginnings.

The Salvation Army of Southern Nevada’s Red Kettle Campaign started Nov. 29 and runs through Christmas Eve. Spokeswoman Leslee Rogers says this year’s bell-ringing effort will include about 150 red kettles positioned at valley stores, shopping malls and other locations.

The nonprofit’s now-iconic Red Kettle Campaign dates back to 1891, when Salvation Army Capt. Joseph McFee “was trying to figure out how he could provide free Christmas dinners to thousands of people in San Francisco who were hungry,” Rogers says.

Thinking back to his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England, McFee remembered how sailors disembarking at Stage Landing would encounter a large kettle marked “Simpson’s Pot” into which they could drop a few coins to aid the poor. The next day, McFee set up a large kettle at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street “with a sign that said, “Keep the Pot Boiling,’ ” Rogers says. “And that, of course, has evolved into the red kettles we use today.”

Today, the Red Kettle Campaign helps about 5 million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and anything left over after the holiday season supports programs The Salvation Army does all year, Rogers says.

Rogers says Southern Nevada’s Salvation Army chapter has set a goal of $800,000 for this year’s campaign. Does getting a frazzled holiday shopper to part with a few bucks require a bit of, well, salesmanship? “Absolutely,” says Rogers, who, herself, takes a few shifts at the kettle each year.

Are there strategies? Greeting each potential donor, certainly. Smiling. Personalizing each encounter as much as possible.

“One thing I do if I’m working at a department store is to just make sure to hold the door,” Rogers says. “If they’re coming into the store, ‘Oh, let me get that for you.’ If they’re coming out, ‘Oh, let me get that door.’ ”

Such niceties can help to create not just one-time donors but regulars who seek out Salvation Army kettles each year.

Just recently, Rogers says, “We had a gal and her mom show up, and they had a huge bag filled with coins. They said, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m so excited to see you. We’ve been driving all over town looking for a kettle,’ and dumped a whole bucket of money into the kettle.”

Jim Reid, kettle coordinator for The Salvation Army’s Henderson Corps, even has a credo of sorts for his bell-ringers: “Pray like everything depends on God, because it does,” he tells them, and “work like everything depends on us, because it does.”

Although some bell-ringers are paid, most are volunteers. Rogers says The Salvation Army of Southern Nevada still needs volunteer bell-ringers to take the organization through this holiday season. (Visit and click on the “volunteer” button, or call volunteer coordinator Tonia Brown at 702-870-4430, extension 105.)

Volunteers include families, individuals and members of local service groups, Rogers says.

“We get Kiwanis clubs and Key clubs and Rotary groups,” Rogers says.

Volunteer bell-ringers help to maximize the value of donations. For example, Rogers says, “if you ring the bell for two hours, that saves us enough money to provide food through our food pantry program for a family of four for a week.”

Or, she says, a volunteer manning a kettle for a full eight-hour shift “saves us enough money to provide all of the initial services needed for a victim of human trafficking who would come to us with nothing but the clothes on their back.”

A few years ago, The Salvation Army unveiled online virtual kettles “where someone can go online and create their own red kettles, then invite their friends and family and business cohorts to donate to The Salvation Army,” Rogers says.

Online red kettles can be operated by individuals, teams or companies (visit

Then, Rogers says, “our new little piece this year is a social media add-on, which is #redkettlereason, so that people who put money in the kettle can do a selfie or a snapshot and then give … the reason why they gave to The Salvation Army.”

And? “A lot of people will have different reasons,” Rogers says. “But this time of year, most people just think it’s really nice, and a lot of people think about others.”

Contact reporter John Przybys at or 702-383-0280.

Kids become firefighters at Fire Station 98 open house
Henderson residents wore fire hats, learned about CPR and met firefighters at the Fire Station 98 open house Saturday, August 11, 2018. (Marcus Villagran Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
People from all over the world attend RollerCon 2018
RollerCon 2018 is a five-day convention focused on the roller derby community and culture at Westgate in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Las Vegas police officer on being PETA's Sexiest Vegan Next Door
Las Vegas police officer David Anthony talks vegan lifestyle and how he feels about being voted PETA's sexiest Vegan next door from his home on Monday, July 9, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like