1. What kind of organization is The Salvation Army?

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar spent is used to carry out those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyusa.org.

'The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.' (International Mission Statement)

The motivation of The Salvation Army is love of God and a practical concern for the needs of humanity. This is expressed by a spiritual ministry, the purposes of which are to preach the Gospel, disseminate Christian truths, supply basic human necessities, provide personal counseling and undertake the spiritual and moral regeneration and physical rehabilitation of all persons in need who come within its sphere of influence regardless of race, color, creed, sex or age.

2. Where does the money raised in the red kettles go, and how is it used?

Local Salvation Army units raise funds to support their local services. There is no national fund raising in The Salvation Army. Funds raised in each community are dedicated to best serve the people in that community who are recovering from many kinds of personal disasters.

3. What types of services might that be?

Christmas services include toys for needy children, food for the family, clothing, and small practical gifts for shut-ins. Throughout the year that same local Salvation Army provides specific programs to aid the poor and needy such as food, emergency and transitional shelter, job training, financial assistance, day care and after school care, youth recreation and development programs. In some larger communities the services are far more complex and will include drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers and hospice care for AIDS victims and their families.

4. Who can volunteer to help with the Red Kettle campaign?

Nearly anyone! Individuals; Groups (corporate, church, school, university, civic, work, neighborhood); Friends; Children (with adult supervision). We do not allow people to volunteer for us who have certain legal convictions or have been identified by police/law as a threat to children.

5. How does the process of signing up work?

Once you have signed up online, a contact person with the local Salvation Army office will be in contact with you and will outline the procedures. Remember that in most cases our bell ringing term begins close to Thanksgiving Day and ends on Christmas Eve. We do not ring bells on Sundays.

6. Who do I contact if there is a problem with the Kettle?

On the signup page you will see contact information for your closest Salvation Army Red Kettle Director. Contact them for any problems, questions, or changes with your Red Kettle.

7. What time do I arrive in advance of my appointment?

Please be on site ready to ring bells at least 15 minutes prior to your assigned time.

8. Is there a dress code for the times when I am Ringing the Bell?

In every case you will be given ID as an official bellringer, and many times either required to wear a red apron that has The Salvation Army printed on it, or wear another type of garment (jacket) that says you are an official bell ringer for The Salvation Army. You may be asked to wear clothing suitable for the task. This could vary by location.

9. Can my time Ringing the Bell count towards Community Service?

The Salvation Army is happy to recruit volunteers who are serving their community through Community Service. Hours served will be counted towards their goal.

10. Can I sign up a group of people?

If you represent a community group or corporate office, your local bell ringer contact will want to speak with you prior to arranging for group participation. We are flexible, but also want to give you and your group the best possible experience.

11. Why is the Red Kettle campaign so important?

The Red Kettle Campaign is most important to the people we serve. More than 6 million individuals are served every year during the Christmas season and more than 32 million people are served by The Salvation Army on an annual basis. The money raised during Christmas certainly helps the most needy in those communities where we serve, not only at Christmas but throughout the year.

12. How many bell ringers do you have?

We’re asked that question frequently. I’m not sure we’ll ever have an exact answer as it has so many local variables. We have attempted to estimate the number of bell ringers we have on the streets at a peak period of time and the closest number we’ve come up with is about 25,000. That’s 25,000 bells all ringing at the same time and with the same purpose – to do the most good for the most people with the most need!

13. Is the need greater this year than before?

The needs are always great. There are more than 37 million Americans living in poverty consistently in this country. Obviously our mission is to serve suffering humanity everywhere and there continues to be millions who can’t get by if not for the support of The Salvation Army. With the public’s generosity and support of our annual red kettle campaign we will continue to reach out in love and compassion for as many people as we can.

14. It seems that The Salvation Army has avoided much of the criticism (high overhead, wasted/poorly distributed resources, etc.) that many major charities have faced in recent years. How has it managed to do this?

We have 131 years of experience in decentralized decision-making that allows our local officers decide how best to serve the needs of their specific communities and individuals in those communities. We must be good stewards of all of the money that we raise. That is why the Army has one of the lowest overheads of any charitable organization in the world – 82 cents of every dollar collected is used to support our programs, one of the ways we try to live up to our promise to "do the most good."

15. Is there anything else I should know about your red kettle program?

It’s important to keep in mind that while Christmas creates a high visibility and emotional period of time for fund raising, the work of The Salvation Army goes on for 365 days every year. The Salvation Army touches more than 30 million people every year in a variety of ways. From children to adults, to families and individuals, and the lonely and forgotten, the mission of The Salvation Army is to serve suffering humanity without discrimination. We do that in community based programs ranging from early childhood development and day care camps, homeless shelters, feeding centers, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, and recreation and residential care for senior citizens. We do not operate every program in every community, but there is a consistent presence of Salvation Army services in every community. We need the financial support of the public at Christmas for sure. We also need that support throughout the year as we are committed to doing the most good for people recovering from many kinds of personal disasters and doing the most good with the contributions that come to us.