Red kettles a symbol of holiday cheer

LIHU’ E — On the day after Thanksgiving, the air was filled with the smell of fresh Douglas fir trees and a symphony of bells heralding the arrival of the Salvation Army red-kettle fundraisers.

At the annual Salvation Army community luncheon at the Hanapepe Corps, a volunteer who took time to watch the hundreds of people enjoy a meal with camaraderie, fellowship and smiles, wondered out loud, “How do we help The Salvation Army? They do so much.”

The answer comes in part from the contributions people make to the red kettles that are located at Wal-Mart, the Big Save stores, and locations island-wide from now until Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24.

In 1891, a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco was determined to do something about the poor people in the community by providing a free Christmas dinner.

To help pay for the food, he placed a large pot outside at a ferry landing in a spot where those using the ferries could easily see it.

This launched the tradition of the Christmas kettle, which has spread throughout the United States, and internationally to countries including Korea, Japan, Chile and throughout Europe.

Last year, members and volunteers with The Salvation Army throughout the United States helped over 6 million people during Thanksgiving and Christmas through contributions to the kettles.

The donations enable The Salvation Army leaders and volunteers to bring the spirit of the season to people who would otherwise be forgotten: the aged and lonely, ill, poor, and disadvantaged, or inmates of jails and other institutions.

On Kaua’i, Lt. Larry Groenleer, at the Hanapepe Corps’ luncheon, noted at one point during the festivities that the island is “losing its middle class” due to escalating real-estate values.

Groenleer said he and others at The Salvation Army had rental help available until only recently, but had to discontinue the program due to funds being depleted.

He pointed out a client at the luncheon who helps feed the hungry from his own home.

On Thursday, Nov. 17, The Salvation Army officials launched the first National Online Red Kettle Campaign for 2005, in conjunction with representatives of America’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart leaders became representatives of the first national organization to participate in the new program, whose own kettle will be going live on Friday, Dec. 18.

Under this program, individuals and representatives of organizations nationwide can help The Salvation Army officials raise funds for those in need by hosting their own “virtual” red kettles on their personal, group, or company Web site.

“We’re making it easier for the growing numbers of people shopping and paying bills online to help the growing numbers of Americans in need of hope this holiday season,” said Maj. George Hood, national community relations secretary for The Salvation Army.

Leaders assured contributors that 100 percent of the transactions are tax-deductible, and will stay in the communities where they were raised. Contributors will automatically receive an e-gift acknowledgment once a donation has been processed.

For more information, individuals may visit The Salvation Army’s Web site at www.salvationarmyusa.org.

Additionally, Kaua’i personnel at The Salvation Army will be gearing up for the holiday season with their annual Breakfast with Santa program at Kukui Grove Center, followed by the daylong Lokahi Giving Tree program.

Breakfast with Santa is set for this Saturday, Dec. 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Kukui Grove Center. Russell Da Rooster and Uncle Mark Jeffers will be there.

There will be children’s activities, goodie bags, and door prizes. Tickets are available at the Kukui Grove Center management office and The Salvation Army.

The Lokahi Giving Tree Project also kicks this Saturday, Dec. 3, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is also an opportunity to give to those less fortunate in the community, The Salvation Army leaders said.

Angel Trees are located at the Wal-Mart and Kmart stores, where shoppers can select a holiday wish for a needy child and shop to fulfill that child’s wish by picking an angel off the tree. The angel trees will be at the stores until Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24.

Volunteers are needed for the red-kettle drive and other functions, and people can call 245-2571 or 335-5441 for more information.

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