You’ve probably never heard of Joseph McFee, but you’re undoubtedly familiar with some of his work.
In 1891, the San Francisco-based Salvation Army Captain was consumed by a big idea. Concerned for the welfare of the poorest in the city, McFee set out to find a way to feed 1,000 people on Christmas Day. But how was he to pay for this charitable act? It was then that he remembered his time as a sailor in England.
There was, down by the docks, an iron kettle known as “Simpsons Pot” which people were encouraged to toss a coin into to help raise funds for those most in need. Captain McFee wondered whether this method would also work in the United States—and didn’t waste any time finding out.
The next day he set up an iron pot down by the water at the foot of Market Street. His sign was clever. It read, “Keep the Pot Boiling,” and before long the enterprising man had raised enough money to feed a large number of the city’s poor on December 25th.
One-hundred and eighteen years later, the Salvation Army’s 2009 Red Kettle Christmas Campaign is currently running in high gear.
This year, I, along with several of my Focus colleagues, joined the army—the Salvation Army, that is. I’m excited to be one of the organization’s 25,000 bell-ringers! As I joked to a local reporter who caught wind of our participation, “See, even a CEO can do it.”
I’m still thawing out from my shift at the red kettle, but I thoroughly enjoyed the time outside of our local Wal-Mart.
It’s fun to volunteer for another organization, help raise some funds for a great cause, wish people a “Merry Christmas!” and share in the joy of the season, even if only through a smile and a friendly nod of the head.
As the president of an organization dependent upon the generosity of others to fulfill the mandate of its mission, I can appreciate just how crucial this program is to the Salvation Army’s survival.
Nearly 70% of its annual budget is sustained by the monies donated at Christmas.
As with my efforts here at Focus, I’m passionate about the S.A. They are, as their motto suggests, among those “Doing the most good.” But it’s also a treat to see those who are giving, especially at a time when budgets are so tight and discretionary income is ever so scarce.
I pray we would all continue to remember those less fortunate, and, if at all possible, lend a hand to help.
By the way, two media outlets—one local and one national—have picked up on our desire to encourage voluntarism. Here are links to those stories: