A Salvation Army ChristmasMagazineMagazine Features

Kettle Season: more than the money

Salvation Army brass musicians accompany a bell ringer, in New York City (circa 1958).

Salvation Army brass musicians accompany a bell ringer in New York City (circa 1958).

As a new officer serving in my first appointment, I had an experience that shaped my view of The Salvation Army’s Christmas kettle season. During a campaign at a store, we handed out “pop–up” cards complete with Bible verses written in them. The corps had the resources to afford these cards, which might have been the best investment we could have made in that community.

One day in March, a woman came to the corps and asked to talk to the corps officer. She said that, at Christmastime, she had planned her suicide. She had taken her son’s car to a local grocery store and had planned to crash it into a tree or other solid fixture.

However, when she dropped a donation in the kettle, she also received a pop–up card. And the scripture she read on it had changed the course of her life. “For I know the plans that I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). This verse gave her hope for the future and an inner peace, knowing that she could trust God with her life.

I think my love for the busy kettle season stems from a perspective on how our “presence” at the kettles can bless the donor as well as the kettle worker.

I also believe that, when we pay kettle workers, we should view them as part of our family and encourage them to see themselves as part of a team that shares a smile and a hope. These workers are often our clients, who need the extra money at Christmas and feel grateful for an opportunity to earn an income while helping others.

Each morning before leaving the building, we pray with the kettle workers, asking God to give them a safe and an enjoyable day.

I know the plans that I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope.”
We have had many faithful workers who come back each year to work because they feel they’re part of something bigger, something with purpose, something that is making a difference. Many of the workers have told us that people have asked them to pray for them. And although they don’t feel equipped, they still pray. They thank us for allowing them to stand at the kettles. Many have become church attenders and soldiers.

We may be accomplishing more than we think. Just as important as collecting money is a paid kettle worker who is cheerful, feels blessed, and who blesses others. And a donor, who is encouraged because of our presence, is more likely to help someone else in the future.

—Captain Patty Richwine is the corps officer at the Cincinnati (West Side) Ohio, Corps.

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