As two Pacific Palisades Optimists rang the bell for the Salvation Army in front of the Post Office on December 16, four young boys walked by.
One asked, “Do you have to donate?”
The Optimist told him, “You don’t have to do anything, but the donation goes to a good cause.”
The youth took off his backpack and found $1.25 and put it in the Red Kettle, and then his three friends did similarly.
The Optimist quipped, “We know our social security will be okay with kids like that.”
Earlier, Atlas, 3, helped his mom put money in the kettle.
One Optimist urged everyone to give a dollar, only a dollar, and noticed most did. After that easy contribution, most walked away smiling.
“People were anxious to contribute,” said Optimist David Dealey who has organized the event for many years. “It was well received.”
For more than 40 years, the local Optimists have participated in Kettle Day, a major fundraiser for the Salvation Army, by ringing a bell in front of local establishments. The Salvation Army helps low-income people pay their utility, shelters families who have lost their homes, and feeds the hungry.
Covid shut down all operations and this was the first time Optimists were back on the street in three years. About $1,440 was raised.
In 2018, Chris Wikle, a lieutenant with the Salvation Army, attended one of the Optimist breakfast meetings at the Presbyterian Church.
“We’re grateful for the support of the Optimist Club,” Wikle said. “The funds raised in this area, stay here.”
He explained how the Salvation Army works with housing Veterans, youth who have just come out of foster care, affordable housing for seniors, and drug and alcohol rehab.
“Some of our work is preventive,” Wikle said, “and some funds are spent to collect toys for kids in families that can’t afford them.”
The Red Kettle dates back to 1891, when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee wanted to find a way to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute. In his sailor days in Liverpool, he remembered a large iron kettle called “Simpson’s Pot” into which passersby tossed in a coin to help the poor.
So, the next day, McFee placed a similar pot at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco and placed a sign, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” He soon had money to feed the needy at Christmas. The idea spread across the nation and today the Salvation Army assists more than 4.5 million people between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The Salvation Army also helps pay utilities, shelters families who have lost their homes and feeds the hungry. To participate in an online kettle, visit: onlineredkettle.com.