High school student launches ‘Red Kettle Club’

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Club may be the first official such group in the U.S.

Red Kettle Club officers from Corona del Sol High School (l-r) Addie Rooder, Megan Miller, Katie Wilkinson, Hallie Swenson, Milena Carrera, Julia Soave, and Kate Spencer


By Marlene Klotz-Collins

Katie Wilkinson, a junior at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Ariz., started a “Red Kettle Club” on campus that is believed to be the first official club of its type in America.

“I chose The Salvation Army over other organizations because all the money we raise will be used for programs in our own community,” Wilkinson said. “Many clubs at my school benefit people in other areas of the world but I think it’s significant to help those less fortunate right here at home.”

Student members will attend monthly meetings. Their first major effort will be Dec. 3 when they encourage friends and family to join them in bell ringing throughout the day at a Fry’s (Kroger’s) location.

“I’d love for our club to have the most amount of money raised in one day in Arizona,” Wilkinson said, “but that’s a big wish. I really just want to have fun while helping others.”

They will also assist with bagging, sorting and offering other volunteer service through the Christmas Angel program.

In launching the club, Wilkinson recruited officers, created a Facebook page and prepared a PowerPoint presentation for her first meeting. More than two dozen students attended to learn the mission and responsibilities of club membership, which will extend beyond the holidays and into the spring semester.

Tempe Corps Officer Captain Robyn Bridgeo represents The Salvation Army. Wilkinson has met with him twice and they correspond by phone and email.

“The Red Kettle Club is an exciting initiative being launched this year by one remarkable young lady,” Bridgeo said. “She has charisma and drive like none I’ve ever seen her age. I believe Katie is living proof that today’s youth are an untapped resource—she isn’t waiting until she is old enough to make a difference. Salvation Army look out!”

Wilkinson and her family have volunteered for more than a decade at the Phoenix Christmas Center and also organize a creative and highly successful day of volunteer bell ringing every season.

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