It was only fitting on the last meeting before we celebrate the Christmas holiday that we asked Envoy Terry Gaster from the local Salvation Army to join us and share the meaning of the holiday. Terry said that 95% of the organizations funds are raised during the kettle campaigns. Of every dollar taken in, he said, 94¢ stays right here in Lenawee County to provide clothing and food for those less fortunate while 6¢ of each dollar “goes to keeping the lights on”.
The initial fundraising campaign began at the Salvation Army in 1891 when a SA representative, Captain Charles Jeffries in the San Francisco Bay area, wondered how he would be able to serve food to the surge of people who were needy from towns that went bust after the gold rush and the surge of poor Chinese immigrants to the area at the same time. Captain Jeffries didn’t know where he could come up with the money necessary to provide meals since there wasn’t ever much money left from the week’s Sunday church collections.
So, he came up with an idea and took a large pot out of their church kitchen and placed it in the street and put a sign on it that read: “We want to feed the hungry a Christmas dinner”. As a result, he raised a lot of money that day. The next day he did the same thing and then went down to the wharf area where the ships came in and placed another kettle there. From all of the money raised he was able to feed over 20,000 people!
A few years later, the same concept was tried in New York and over 50,000 people were fed a Christmas meal at Madison Square Gardens! The Salvation Army world headquarters in London thought that this would be a wonderful event they could continue well into the future…and it was, Terry said. Thus the beginning of what would become the signature Red Kettle Drive which is now established in over 120 countries across the globe! Every dollar they raise, Terry said, stays right in their communities like it does in Lenawee County.
Terry reported sadly that donations this season were down. Their goals is $125,000 of which $109,000 has been raised. There are only 3 days left to achieve the goal. The deficit could have been much more, he said, had it not been for an event at the Wagley Funeral Home recently that brought in a lot of money along with the generosity of one of our own members, he said, who donated numerous food cards. Many toys were also donated along with several hundred pounds of food. One person in particular, he said, who wished to remain anonymous went into the local Salvation Store in Adrian and handed them a card with a check in it for $20,000! The Lord, Terry said, has truly blessed their organization again this year just like He has blessed us by coming to this earth performing miracles that healed the blind and the deaf and still does that today.
We still need the help of the people though”, he said.  The needs are even greater than they were before, Terry said. The Salvation Army filled 1,500 more food orders this year than last. Utilities were $21,000 more this year than last but Terry said he was confident that the Lord would see them through and not let people go without. Everybody, no matter who they are, will always be served food if they are hungry and even have groceries to take home with them, he said. Terry said he chose the Salvation Army so he could serve the Lord and cited Matthew 25 from the Bible in particular ending with “Whatsoever you do for the least of My brothers, you do it to Me”.