The Salvation Army red kettle is a familiar site around the holidays, but do you know the story of the first Salvation Army collection kettle? In 1891, Captain Joseph McFee made a commitment to provide 1,000 of San Francisco’s poorest inhabitants with Christmas dinner. The problem was that he had no money with which to purchase the necessary food. He awoke early one morning with memories of his days as a soldier in Liverpool, where he saw what was known as ‘Simpson’s Pot,’ a large stewing pot into which charitable donations were thrown by passersby.
McFee wasted no time in securing permission to set up a similar pot. A sign across the top urged people to ‘Keep The Pot Boiling.’ It was an instant success, and the money needed to fund his commitment was soon collected.
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