Harvey Benson, a bell ringer for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign, greets Rodney Gregerson outside the bank on Friday, Dec. 14.
Harvey Benson, a bell ringer for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign, greets Rodney Gregerson outside the bank on Friday, Dec. 14.
Once again the Fillmore County Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign is underway in the communities all over Fillmore County. In Harmony, 25 volunteers signed on to ring the bell alongside the red kettle to draw attention to this fundraising effort this holiday season.

Harvey Benson of rural Harmony stood outside the First Southeast Bank in the sunshine on Friday morning, Dec. 14. He enjoyed talking with the many folks who came by to add to the kettle.

The Salvation Army has been raising funds with an open kettle since 1891 when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was distraught because so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry. Captain McFee was inspired to placed an open pot near a ferry landing. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, "Keep the Pot Boiling." He soon had the money to see that the needy people were properly fed at Christmas.

From that humble beginning, the annual holiday Red Kettle Campaign allows the Salvation Army to assist millions of people. Captain McFee's kettle idea launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but all across the world, helping those who would otherwise be forgotten.

Joy Johnson of Harmony has been involved in organizing the bell ringers this year. She emphasized the money raised here stays here within the county. Last year $2,817.74 was donated to the Red Kettle in Harmony. The donations go to those in need through a number of programs throughout the year.

Dorothy McKernan of Harmony, a member of the Fillmore County Salvation Army Board shared that countywide about $18,000 is used to help those who are in need, much of that amount is raised through the Red Kettle Campaign.

Johnson outlined the ways the Salvation Army money is used here in Fillmore County. Money is set aside to help those experiencing immediate hardships such as helping with emergency situations for transportation, food and lodging or utility cutoffs. Money is given to each school in the county to help cover the milk break funds for school children from lower-income families.

Boxes of food are prepared and provided to those in need as identified by the county food shelf. This year, 100 boxes were distributed during the Easter and Thanksgiving holidays.

Nursing home residents are also remembered at holiday time. The money is used in a flexible manner to help those who are struggling for a variety of reasons throughout the year.

For more information about the Salvation Army in Fillmore Countym contact Dorothy McKernan. It was also noted members are needed to serve on the local Salvation Army board!

Joy and Robert Johnson have volunteered to be bell ringers for a number of years. Their daughter continues the tradition by joining a group of fellow school teachers to ring the bell near her suburban Twin Cities home. This group gathers to sing songs and have a lot of fun while drawing attention to the humble Red Kettle.

Joy says she and Robert continue to volunteer because, "We feel the money is going where it is really needed," here in our neck of the woods.

The bell ringers will be out again this weekend, on Friday and Saturday, in Harmony. Look for the Red Kettle at the Harmony Foods store anytime during open hours!