Many in Garden City associate the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign with Christmas. That is understandable given the bell ringers at store entrances are dressed in Santa suits. But the campaign is about much more than the season, and that is something the city’s needy residents know first-hand.

The Red Kettle campaign goes on through the year, or at least the donations given through it do. And the donations go a long way in powering the many different activities the Salvation Army engages in all year long, making it one of the most important campaigns for the organization.

“A lot of people know us for Christmas, but many in our community know us all year round, from running our pantry program to emergency assistance to emergency disaster relief,” Lieutenant Joyce Curran said. “Through our social services like counseling, budgeting and youth programs, all these count on what goes in those kettles.”

Proceeds from the Red Kettle are a huge portion of the Salvation Army’s social service budget, according to Joyce Curran. “A lot of people don’t understand that for us to be able to offer the services that we do to the community all year long, we count on what they give.”

She said 88 cents out of every dollar that goes into the kettle go back into the community.

Lieutenant Jeff Curran, also in charge of the Red Kettle campaign and husband of Joyce Curran, said the goal this year is $65,000 and the organization is halfway there.

“Christmas Eve is the last day for the kettles,” he said. “Donations can still be mailed or dropped off at Salvation Army, even after that date.”

The money will be used for financial assistance, counseling, buying food, medicine, transportation and many other things for those who apply for assistance at the Salvation Army, Joyce Curran explained.

The Red Kettle campaign started in England.

“It was a red kettle, or just any pot put outside, and it was kept boiling to feed the hungry,” Joyce Curran said referring to the motivation for the campaign. “It was done around Christmas but that pot boiling was not necessarily for Christmas; it was a meal so people would have something to eat. It grew from that in the 1890s.”

In many cities across the world, the Red Kettle campaign is represented by volunteers standing at entrances of stores ringing their bells and calling out a cheerful “merry Christmas” to shoppers. According to the Salvation Army website, The Salvation Army assists more than four-and-a-half million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time periods through the Red Kettle.

“We ring from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day except Sunday in 10 locations,” Joyce Curran said. She said the organization needs more volunteers.

The Salvation Army runs the Red Kettle around the same time it does the Angel Tree campaign, which is a drive to get toys for children. The two are not necessarily related, though they are done at the same time.

“We have some 500 children that need Christmas gifts in Garden City,” Joyce Curran said, explaining that the children already told the Salvation Army their ages, gender and presented generic lists of what they wanted for Christmas. “Most of them ask for a Barbie or a car or a ball … children that are in need do not have a detailed list and they always ask for something very simple.”

The Salvation Army is located at 216 N. Ninth St.