Ringing in the Holidays: The Salvation Army's Timeless Tradition of Giving Back

Dec 12, 2023

A Time-Honored Tradition

The roots of the Salvation Army's commitment to providing holiday meals trace back to 1891, when the first kettle was set up in San Francisco to offer a free Christmas meal to those in need. By 1895, the initiative had blossomed into a nationwide effort, serving over 150,000 Christmas meals to individuals across the United States. Over the years, this tradition has not only survived but has expanded to include more than just meals. Today, the Salvation Army's holiday initiatives encompass not only a warm meal but also essential cold weather clothing and toys for children, ensuring a comprehensive approach to supporting those in need during the holiday season.

Evolution of Giving

Walking through the iconic streets of Midtown Manhattan during the holidays, the recognizable sound of the Salvation Army Bell echoes the spirit of generosity. Each year, the organization's efforts contribute to raising millions of dollars through its signature red kettles, which directly benefit the local community. This cherished tradition kicks off on Giving Tuesday, a reminder that the true essence of the holidays lies in extending a helping hand to neighbors facing challenges in providing for their families.

Kettle Takeover Events

In a delightful twist to the traditional fundraising approach, the Salvation Army holds exciting Kettle Takeover events. Organizations form teams and compete to see who can make the most significant impact in supporting New Yorkers in need during the holiday season. This year, Echelon, the Salvation Army of Greater New York's young professional board, is hosting its Kettle Takeover at Rockefeller Plaza on Saturday, December 9, plus our corporate partner UBS on Wednesday, December 6, will be holding their own competition. These events promise not only to raise funds but also to spread holiday joy and strengthen community bonds.

Embracing Innovation: Tap-to-Pay Technology

This year brings a new part to the Salvation Army's fundraising efforts with the introduction of tap-to-pay technology. Donors can now walk up to the kettle and contribute seamlessly through Google or Apple Pay or by tapping their credit card. This innovative fundraising tool reduces barriers to giving, allowing anyone who wishes to support the Salvation Army's mission to make a donation with ease.

True Meaning of the Kettle Season

As the Salvation Army embarks on another Kettle season, the organization invites New Yorkers and tourists alike to join in the spirit of the holidays. Through a combination of tradition, innovation, and community engagement, the Salvation Army continues to exemplify the true meaning of the season — spreading love, joy, and support to those in need. So, let the sound of the Salvation Army Bell inspire you to make a difference this holiday season, one tap-to-pay at a time.

Carry on the Tradition


Help carry on the tradition that The Salvation Army started over 100 years ago to help those in need this holiday season.

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