Day 488: Mustang Sally Ann

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas for Salvation Army recruits!

Sorry for my absence, I was in the U.S. this weekend and tried to do a bit of cross-border good-deeding in the process.

I was in a lovely place called Ann Arbor, Michigan, which needed no Litter Lady services as it was as tidy and well-kept as one of those college towns in the movies.

So in lieu of trash collection, when I spotted a Salvation Army kettle set up on the sidewalk (or, rather, heard his bell clanging about four blocks away … very effective, possibly where Pavlov got his idea…), I made a beeline over and made a donation.

That inspired me to check up on the Sally Ann group here and find out what they’re up to this holiday season. They usually have something cool going on and this year is no exception.

Here’s what I found out:

  • You can now host your very own online ikettle and collect donations online. (Not sure if it includes a virtual bell, however.)
  • Or watch stories of people helped by the Sally Ann at
  • And learn about the annual Santa Shuffle Run and Elf Walk fundraising event on Dec. 5 across North America.

And, according to their website:

Thousands of Christmas Kettles from coast to coast raise funds to help fight poverty throughout the Christmas season and the rest of the year.

Last year, at a Toronto area kettle, a 30-year-old woman stopped to ask: “Do you have a place where I can sleep tonight?” Another passerby said: “I owe you big time. I had a baby at age 17 and wasn’t married. I was thrown out of my parents’ house and had nowhere to go. I saw a Salvation Army sign on a building. They gave me a meal and found me a place to stay.”

History of the Kettle
The kettle first appeared on the streets of San Francisco (heh, heh)  in 1891. Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee wanted to help the poor, especially for the coming Christmas season, but didn’t know where to get funding for his project.

He remembered, during his earlier days, as a sailor in Liverpool, England, seeing a large Kettle called “Simpson’s Pot” where passengers of boats that docked at Stage Landing tossed coins to help the poor.

The next day, captain McFee placed a pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing. Beside the pot was a sign that read “Keep the Pot Boiling.” He collected enough donations to have a Christmas dinner for the poor people. And the rest, as they say, is Sally Ann history!


P.S. Here’s a scene from Guys and Dolls where Salvation Army Sister Sarah (Jean Simmons) and Marlon Brando sing “If I Were a Bell.” Enjoy!


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