Salvation Army kettle donations down 20% statewide this season

Known for its iconic Red Kettle Campaign, the Salvation Army asks the community for help meeting its fundraising goals for this year.

A shopper added change to a red kettle.

In the Northeast, the ringing bell beside the Salvation Army red kettles on street corners is as much the soundtrack of Christmastime as Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” This year, with donations down from last year’s numbers by over 20%, the nonprofit is asking the community for fundraising help.

The Massachusetts Salvation Army division aims to raise $3 million this year to assist rising numbers of vulnerable folks struggling in the wake of the pandemic. 

This holiday season, the organization has distributed Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas gifts for children, and gift cards for Christmas dinners. 

Less in-person shopping, closed storefronts, and canceled fundraising events mean the Salvation Army has struggled to meet fundraising goals via the red kettles this year—not to mention the increasing needs of the community after almost two years of living through a pandemic.


“Our work is not possible without the support of our communities and citizens making donations,” said Major Marcus Jugenheimer, general secretary of the Salvation Army Massachusetts Division, in a statement. “I am as hopeful as ever that once again, we will all come together to make sure those in need have access to the services, support, and donations they need. If you have the means to do so, please make a donation and help make our work possible.”

Folks interesting in donating no longer have to bring their spare change out holiday shopping—the Salvation Army now has a virtual kettle online.

While the Salvation Army was founded in London in 1865 under the name The Christian Mission, the red kettle campaign has its roots in 1890s San Francisco.

In 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee wanted to put on a Christmas dinner for folks facing food insecurity. Inspired by Simpson’s Pot in Liverpool, England, Captain McFee put a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing.

Six years later, the kettle campaign spread to Boston, and four years later to New York.

Today in the U.S., the organization serves almost five million people each holiday season, and 30 million people annually.


The Salvation Army describes itself as “an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church” and in recent years has come under fire for what many say is a history of discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.

Today, the organization maintains that they provide help to anyone who needs it, regardless of “race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” according to their website.

The Salvation Army says that its mission is “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

The nonprofit has Boston-area locations in Cambridge, the South End, Roxbury, and Dorchester. For more information, visit easternusa.salvationarmy.org.


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