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DES MOINES, Iowa — Monday WHO 13 is volunteering to ring bells for the Salvation Army at Scheels in West Des Moines and Bass Pro in Altoona. But for years people all around the world have volunteered in support of that red kettle that many of us do not know the history behind. 

The Capital Area Coordinator for the Salvation Army here in Des Moines, Major Butch Frost said the red kettle started in 1891 in San Francisco all because the Salvation Army officer there was trying to feed 1,000 people in his soup kitchen, so he put out a kettle where the ships came in and sailors put money in the pot. 

Now the Salvation Army serves in over 130 countries across the world and helps around 30 million Americans annually.

In Central Iowa, all the donations stay local and they use the money to help with things like food supply, rent, utilities along with supporting different programs that the Salvation Army offers. 

“The Salvation Army money, all the donations that come in, stays here locally to help those in need. And what it supports is the different programs that we have to offer. Throughout the year programs such as our pantries, utilities, rent, you name it, things that folks are in need of help with. That’s what the money goes towards,” said Frost. “It goes to support the different programs that the Salvation Army offers, such as our character-building programs, our summer day camp, and sending kids to summer camp for the summertime. It supports all those kinds of programs.”

And here in Des Moines, the need is great this year, as they are still looking for volunteers and donations. 

“This is the time of year that we raise our money to support throughout the entire next year. So it’s not only money that we raised for the Christmas season, but it takes us through the next 12 months ’til the next Christmas season. So all we’re asking folks to do is really think about making a donation this Christmas season. Help us reach that $1.2 million goal because ultimately, you could be helping your neighbor,” said Frost.

You are able to sign up to volunteer to ring a bell up until the 23rd of December and if you are unable to visit a red kettle at all this holiday season, you can donate online at the Salvation Army website.