William and Catherine Booth founded the Salvation Army in the 1800s, and the organization has grown to help individuals in need in communities across the country and around the world.
Red kettles and ringing bells at Christmastime — that’s what comes to mind for most when thinking of the Salvation Army. However, the organization’s mission is so much more.
William Booth, who worked in London’s ministry, founded the Salvation Army with his wife, Catherine, in 1865. In the years prior, Booth took his career in the ministry to the streets of London so he could preach directly to the people who needed it most. Since the founders of the church didn’t agree with this approach, the Booths created their own organization called “The Christian Mission” so they could continue to touch the lives of those traditionally left behind.
Among those converted by the couple were thieves, prostitutes and drunks. As their lives changed and began to flourish, they became volunteers at the organization and eventually became known as an Army for Christianity. From there, the Salvation Army was officially born.
On a Mission
The Salvation Army’s mission is to meet human needs throughout the year and without discrimination. They provide shelter for the homeless, food for the hungry and assistance to local communities based on the greatest needs of that community. Once they’re able to understand the community’s needs, Salvation Army workers develop and implement programs to serve them. All of this is done based on the original ideals and foundation that the Booths set a century and a half ago.
While support is needed throughout the year, it’s especially needed during the holiday season. Many children go without on Christmas because their parents need to decide between paying their bills or putting presents under the tree.
The community can help in many ways during this time. During the Red Kettle Campaign, which runs through Dec. 24, bell ringers stand in front of local businesses with a red kettle and ring a bell as a call for donations. About 33% of the Salvation Army’s yearly donations come from the Red Kettle Campaign. The largest and longest-running fundraiser of its kind, the 2018 campaign raised $142.7 million.
There is also the Angel Tree Program, where angels holding wish lists from local children hang from a Christmas tree. Supporters simply choose an angel from the tree, shop for the items listed and drop off the gifts to the local Salvation Army. From there, they’re distributed to the family to place under their tree for Christmas morning.
From its humble beginnings with the Booths to present day, the Salvation Army works to better communities across the country. Whether you choose to donate at Christmas or throughout the year, every little bit helps in the organization’s efforts.