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Kettle of Care
         Barbara A. Killmeyer

When you drop money into the familiar red Salvation Army kettle during the holiday season you are taking part in a tradition that can be traced 1891 and Joseph McFee, a captain in the San Francisco Salvation army.

Determined to see that the poor in the area had a free Christmas dinner McFee recalled his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England where he saw a large urn, conspicuously displayed in a busy area. This urn was called "Simpson's Pot" and donations tossed into it were used for charitable purposes. He received permission to place two pots, one at the Oakland ferry landing at the foot of San Francisco's Market Place and the other in the ferryboat waiting room.

His idea was so successful that four years later thirty Salvation Army corps throughout the West Coast area used kettles to obtain funds for holiday help. The kettles now provide, in the United States alone, the spirit of Christmas to more than six million people who would otherwise be forgotten; people such as the aged and lonely, ill, poor and disadvantaged, or inmates of jails and other institutions.

Ginny Knor, Divisional director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Salvation Army in Pittsburgh says that the Christmas Campaign goal for Allegheny County this year is one million dollars and the proceeds from the kettles provide between 15 and 20% of the funds.

Knor explained that the Salvation Army began in London in 1854 by William Booth, a Methodist minister who believed that you can't get people to church if they are hungry, cold or have no place to stay. He did what he could to relieve some of the harsh conditions of the poor and in so doing the organization came into being.

Knor said, "We would have a much better chance of reaching our goal if the kettles were manned seven days a week. However, since we are first and foremost a church, we never have them out on a Sunday, no matter what the circumstance."

Volunteers are the backbone of the kettle drive and they are becoming increasingly more difficult to find. Knor said that one great source of help comes from the Corporate Kettle Challenge. In this program companies sponsor kettles and allow employees to man them on company time.

Some of the current corporate sponsors are PNC, Giant Eagle, Snyder of Berlin, and Vector Security of Wexford. Giant Eagle and Vector Security will also each underwrite a portion of the television advertising.

David Errera, General Manager of Vector Security is enthusiastic about the company's participation in this drive. Errera said, "We have close to 100 employees and saw this as a way to work as a team. The kettle drive is an opportunity to do more than 'collect for a worthy cause'." He takes his place with the other Vector employees, each working four hour shifts, to man the kettles at Kaufman's in Ross Park Mall and at Target in Cranberry.

Errera said, "If you're looking for a way to galvanize the people you work with into a family, there is no better way than the challenge of the kettle drive. I would encourage and challenge any employers to join in the drive and would be happy to talk to them about the satisfaction received and the good work provided by the Salvation Army."

Another point to remember is that the money collected in any area is used only for that area, so when you donate to a kettle you are helping neighbors in your locality.

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