On Friday November 18th the Salvation Army Corps of San Bernardino began its traditional “Red Kettle” bell ringing Campaign. Bells began ringing at the larger San Bernardino area retail establishments. The bell ringing tradition has ushered in the Christmas season since 1891. It all started in San Francisco by Captain Joseph McFee, in an effort to collect enough money to provide a free Christmas dinner to the poor immediately following the San Francisco Fires.
This year’s first kettle workers at the Highland Wal-Mart shopping center were excited to be part of the holiday spirit. Mr. Haskins Herndon has been with the Salvation Army Corps of San Bernardino for over a year and this is his second year at ringing the bells. He was found greeting shoppers with a “Happy Thanksgiving” next to his Red Kettle!
Francisca Tousley of San Bernardino is ringing the bells for the first time. Francisca was greeting shoppers with a gigantic smile, and being a mother of two kids, Francisca naturally gravitated towards youngsters and even letting them ring the bell! The kids seem to enjoy taking the donations from their parents to drop into the kettles.
Many people donate at the kettles for various reasons. Mr. Ray Carson from Highland, has a history with the Salvation Army as a volunteer in Arizona, and has had the opportunity to ring the bells in the past. Ray said that the Salvation Army “has a special place in his heart”. Melia Steward from San Bernardino, dropped her donation into the kettle and said that she, “donates frequently”, whenever she can.”
All the Kettle donations collected during the Christmas Bell Ringing season in San Bernardino are used to provide food baskets, feed the homeless and provide other essential goods and services during the Christmas Season.
This year the Salvation Army Corps of San Bernardino is trying to fill most of the bell ringer positions with volunteers as opposed to paid employees. The high cost of labor has made it difficult to feasibly operate the program. However, many have stepped up to the plate and have pledged to volunteer. Many service organizations like the Rotary Club have taken entire days at a time to sponsor a specific location.
If you would like to volunteer your time at the Kettles or make a direct financial donation to the San Bernardino Salvation Army Corps, you may call the Corps office at 909-888-1336. The new Salvation Army Corps office is located at 2626 N. Pacific Ave. in Highland.