Red Kettle takes holiday donations


Julia Vastano

Volunteers stand outside in the cold temperatures ringing a handheld bell encouraging people to donate to the Red Kettle for Salvation Army.

Julia Vastano, Assistant Editor

The wind is biting on this particular winter day. People rush into the comparatively warm grocery store from their heated cars, holding onto their hats as the wind fights to whip them away. Most would grumble that the conditions are miserable and would never venture into the frigid temperatures. However, a few brave men and women volunteer to stand in the cold for the greater good.

“I have been volunteering for the Salvation Army Red Kettles for about two years now,” volunteer Keith Jones said. “I keep positive by walking around and shaking the bell and thinking don’t give up, just keep going, God has a blessing for [me].”

The famous Red Kettle pot that small or large donations can be made to.
The famous Red Kettle pot that small or large donations can be made to.

Dressed in a thick, puffy, beige winter coat, Jones smiles as bright as a Christmas tree and stands next to the little Red Kettle perched in front of Kroger’s sliding doors. Occasionally he will speak up with a ‘happy holidays” or “Merry Christmas” in a wonderful cheery tone.

“Merry Christmas, and thank you for your donation,” is the mantra usually followed by a “Have a nice day and a happy holiday season.”

It begins around Thanksgiving and lasts at least until Christmas day. The bell noise is there to remind you of the less fortunate and to draw your attention to donating. It’s almost like a dull background noise to the frantic shopping surrounding and almost encompassing the Christmas season. Relentlessly and restlessly a small brass bell beats on.

“Shaking the bell is a reminder of why I am out here doing this,” Jones said. “Because it helps people donate and it helps all of the homeless people in the community, that I really just want to help.

Not many Scrooge’s approach Jones (for he rarely hears the words Bah Humbug), and for this he is thankful. Fortunately, the majority of the people he encounters during his enduring day are friendly and supportive of him and the cause he is supporting. A lot of generous people wrapped in their own warm winter attire will thank Jones and scurry into the grocery store with a smile on their faces, complementing their rosy cheeks.

“This one person came up to me one afternoon and said that it is good and great that I am out here doing this volunteer work for people and God blesses me,” Jones said. “And I said thank you and told her thank you for donating to the Salvation Army for them and that God blesses her too.”

Some generous donors will even try to pay Jones for his hard work in the freezing temperature, but as a volunteer he refuses to take the money.  Jones says that he wants to do this to help the homeless.

Keith Jones and the Red Kettle he volunteers for outside a local Kroger Grocery Store,
Keith Jones and the Red Kettle he volunteers for outside a local Kroger Grocery Store,

“This one guy came up to me and tried to offer me money,” Jones said. “I was like no I don’t take money like that. I also said that I wouldn’t take money for doing this for others and helping people.”

Though Jones will refuse any money that people pay him with for this work, he will accept other forms of gratitude. He finds reward in people blessing him and this is something that he is grateful for. He also has never refused a hot sandwich or a cup of hot cocoa someone offers him as an act of gratitude.

“Folks will sometimes buy me food and bring it to me and stuff,” Jones said. “So that’s really nice.”

Due to the recent winter weather such as the massive ice storm that hit North Texas and surrounding areas, the Salvation Army is behind from its normal average, which means every penny donated counts.

“We lost about 5,000 dollars during the ice storm and after,” Jones said. “So we are struggling to make it up. They said we will be working all the way to Christmas Eve and they are asking for us to work up to Christmas Day.”

Residents in the local Lucas/Allen area are usually more than willing to donate to the Red Kettle cause as frozen fingers in woolen mittens and knitted gloves oftenl reach into their wallets and retrieve a small amount of money to donate.

“I donate mainly at Christmas because of the Red Kettle,” an anonymous donor said. “I like to donate when I see a Red Kettle, don’t I don’t always. The Salvation Army is a good charity organization which encourages me to donate. I think most of the money actually goes to the charity work rather than a huge overhead cost of a business and the people running it. It is truly a good cause”

Others are inspired by the holiday spirit and enjoy making donations all year round.

“I donate more around Christmas,” another anonymous donor said. “But I probably donate about five to six times a year, mainly now. I normally donate to the charity throughout the year like leaving a box on the front porch and that kind of thing.

Local Red Kettles can be found at the following locations:

Kroger at 1210 N Greenville Ave, Allen, TX 75002

Walmart at 2662 W Lucas Rd, Lucas

Dillards at 121 E Stacy Rd, Fairview, TX 75069

For more information about the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle, click here.