Children in Front of Store as Salvation Army Bellringers

Where does the money donated to West’s kettles go?

It’s no secret The Salvation Army has a reputation for financial stewardship. For years it’s been touted that about 82 cents of every dollar given to the Army go directly to those in need. Every Christmas season, Americans donate about $140 million to The Salvation Army through the Red Kettle Campaign, knowing their donation will help “do the most good.”

But where does the money go? 

Funds given at kettles stay in the community of donation, and every community has different needs. In the Western Territory, which reaches from the Pacific to the Great Plains, the U.S.-Mexico border to the Arctic Circle, the application of kettle funds can look vastly different, depending on location.

“To do the most good takes resources. That is where the Red Kettle comes in,” said Lt. Colonel Kyle Smith, Territorial Communications Secretary. “It helps The Salvation Army in your community be The Salvation Army. It helps The Salvation Army do the most good for the most people with the most need.”    

We reached out to corps throughout the territory to see how kettle donations allow them to meet human needs without discrimination through various services. 


California South

Bellflower Corps

“The Red Kettle campaign is one of the most important efforts we work on during the year with the aim of bringing joy to many children and helping many low-income families in our community to have a better Christmas,” said Envoy Manuel Martinez. “The Christmas spirit makes hearts more sensitive to the needs of the less fortunate, and that allows Salvationists to be willing to develop our mission to meet human needs without any discrimination.”

Kettle donations go to: Christmas family assistance, year-round assistance for low-income families and individuals, food pantries, youth programs, summer camps, character-building classes, homeless assistance, veterans’ programs, seniors assistance, case management, counseling.

Salvation Army Officer with Chef Holding Dough

Del Oro

Lodi Corps

“Our corps receives limited funds from grants and foundations; most of our income is through private donors and fundraisers,” said Major Mark Thielenhaus. “Funds from the kettle campaign are a vital part of making sure we keep all of our social services and shelter programs running.” 

Kettle donations go to:  Seasonal and year-round programs, including social services and the Hope Harbor shelter programs for men, women and single-family units. 

Auburn Corps

“The revenue not only allows us to offer our services to our community throughout the year, but it speaks hope into unspeakable situations,” said Lt. Jesse Posner. “When the community sees the kettles, they see compassion, love and hope—as this is what The Salvation Army of Auburn strives to do in Jesus’ name.”

Kettle donations go to: Food pantry, Emergency Disaster Services, church and spiritual services, housing and utility assistance, youth programs and summer camps, women’s and men’s programs, senior services, community Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas assistance, adult and family case management, and a few other services on a case-by-case basis as resources allow. 

Oakland Chinatown Corps

“The Kettle campaign is very important because it is a way to fundraise for our corps so that we can run new and existing programs,” said Captain Esther Hsu. “Besides fundraising, the kettle campaign is a great way to connect with the community and let them know about The Salvation Army and all the programs and ministries we already have running.”

Kettle donations go to: Vocational training program, summer day camp, music program and community center senior recreation.



Pullyap Corps

“The Red Kettle Campaign is important to the Puyallup Valley Corps for many reasons. First and foremost, it contributes to our overall funding to sustain programs and keep the lights on,” said Captain John Kelley. “Without the public’s generous support, we would be forced either to put future plans on hold or pare down our programming.”

Kettle donations go to: Providing free and low-cost community programs, emergency food boxes, utility assistance, gifts and holiday food baskets for struggling families during Christmastime, gas cards, new clothing or tools for those beginning a new job or trade, employing men and women whose skill sets limit long-term career success during the holiday season.

Spokane Corps

“It may be our largest fundraiser, but it also gives us an opportunity to help the people we are employing as bellringers,” said Gerianne Armstrong, Spokane Christmas Kettle Coordinator. The relationship aspect of the kettle program really is the reason we do well here. We have a 60 percent return rate, which is unreal.”

Kettle donations go to: Sally’s House Emergency Foster Care for children ages 2-12, Evangeline’s house for state dependent youth and emerging adults, food bank, Stepping Stones transitional apartments, Emergency Safe Shelter, Visitation Center, Camp Gifford, backpacks for kids, adopt-a-family program. 

Toy Donations in Front of Group


Clovis Corps

“The Red Kettle Campaign is the most important fundraising of the year,” said Lt. Miguel Ibarra. “With this kettle fundraising we provide assistance to the less fortunate during the holiday season and the rest of the year.”

Kettle donations go to: Paying community members’ utility bills, such as rent, gas and electricity; providing food, clothes and dinner baskets for Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as toys for children.

Las Vegas Metro (Las Vegas Citadel Corps, Owens Campus Chapel, Henderson Corps, Mesquite Service Center, Pahrump Service Center) 

“In Southern Nevada, we have a large Social Services Campus on Owens Avenue in Las Vegas providing a continuum of programs from Homeless Shelter, congregate sit-down meals every day, job training, employment services, transitional housing, services and housing for veterans, safety dorm for transgender homeless, and more,” said Major Randy Kinnamon, Clark County Coordinator. “All of our mail appeal and major gifts are allocated to support the programs at the Owens Campus. This means that the only funds available to support our standard corps activities are from kettles.” 

Kettle donations go to: Food pantry services (especially Henderson, Mesquite, and Pahrump), providing temporary employment to the unemployed as bell-ringers when volunteers aren’t available, providing possible food and toys for families at Christmas, supporting after-school program, ministry to those in recovery, including Celebrate Recovery on Sunday nights, and adult programs for men and women.



Bozeman Corps 

“Our kettle program is important to The Salvation Army in Bozeman because it allows us to provide services throughout Gallatin County, to people experiencing crisis,” said Lt. Jennifer Larson. “This program also allows us to form relationships with other organizations, so we can partner to do the most good for the people we serve in Gallatin County.”

Kettle donations go to: Pathway of Hope, emergency rental and utility assistances, food vouchers, bus tickets, daily sack lunch program, community Thanksgiving meal, the Christmas Angel Tree Toy and Joy program, helping human trafficking victims relocate, get counseling services and rental assistance.



Pocatello Outpost

“The kettle campaign is extremely important because it sets the pace of how many services we could provide for our community,” said Lt. Tami Moore. “There are many costs involved in keeping our doors open. Community support during our kettle campaign allows us to make sure that their money is invested in making our community a better place, because every person matters.”

Kettle donations go to: Serving a hot lunch Monday to Saturday, emergency food boxes, gas vouchers and lodging vouchers. 

The Dalles Corps

“The Kettle Campaign is very important to The Dalles Corps. It’s that one time of year that we ask for help to offset the cost of the programs we have here in The Dalles,” said Captain Ray Morris. “We ask for donations year-round; however, the kettle campaign makes up 33 percent of the budgeted contributions.”

Kettle donations go to: Christmas toys and food boxes, movie night for the community, food pantry in two locations, and kids’ programs such as the Friday Night Loft, a drop-in center for kids to get off the street on Friday nights.

Women with Toy Donations 


Sitka Corps

“The kettle campaign is important at our corps and in our community because the foundation of all of our programs rely on the funds that are raised throughout the Red Kettle Campaign,” said Captain Charleen Morrow. 

Kettle donations go to: Providing a hot meal and snack for individuals and families five days a week, serving 200 families a month through our food bank (the only one in town), assisting in housing, utilities and a number of other social service aid programs, funding character building programs for ages 4-17 that work on social skills, self control, responsibility and more.


Golden State 

San Francisco Kroc Center

“It allows us to be visually out in the streets where people can ask questions and donate to us,” said Corps Officer and Executive Director Major Raymond Erickson-King. “Many of our volunteers and kettle workers inform the people about our year-round programs and share how the money is put to use in different ways. This is a great way for us to promote the happenings at the Kroc center.” 

Kettle donations go to:  Monthly community events where people from the Tenderloin are able to come to a safe environment, like movie night, Monday night football and senior meals; reducing tuition for after school and enrichment programs such as piano, violin, drums, trumpet and guitar; scholarships for low income families to the Kroc Center.

Watsonville Corps

“The Kettle Campaign helps fund our programs year-round,” said Lt. Thelma Jimenez. “It helps us to continue to share hope and love to anyone who is in need…Every penny, dime, check or hour of volunteer support helps make a change in our local community—but best of all, a change in someone’s life.”  

Kettle donations go to: Funding the corps’ year-round shelter, feeding the hungry, providing food boxes to the community and funding programs for kids and adults.


Hawaii and Pacific Islands

Lihue Corps

“The kettle campaign is really important each year because the donations help us do the most good in our community throughout the year,” said Captain Bill Simon.

Kettle donations go to: Annual Thanksgiving luncheon for some 800 individuals, running our soup kitchen twice a week, clothing vouchers four times a week from our thrift store, Christmas Toy & Joy program for nearly 300 families with approximately 2,700 keiki (children), after-school program, and troops program.

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