Entries in Salvation Army (3)


Salvation Army Surprise: Gold Bars Dropped Into Collection Kettles

PRNewsFoto/The Salvation Army(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- The Salvation Army got a little more than the usual spare change this weekend.

Over the weekend, two gold bars were dropped into Salvation Army collection kettles -- a 10-gram gold bar worth up to $800 and a 5-gram gold bar worth $310 -- in different parts of Kansas City, Mo.

Last year the Salvation Army received an identical 5-gram gold bar worth $300, according to Major Michele Heaver, a Salvation Army spokeswoman.

The grand gestures aren’t limited to gold, however. Two weeks ago, a loose 3/4-carat diamond said to be worth about $2,000 was found in a kettle outside a Walmart in Shawnee, Kan. The appraiser offered to place the stone in a setting so the Salvation Army could auction it off as a ring, but the group has not yet decided what to do with it.

Heaver said her unit has found silver dollars (including one that had never been circulated), tokens for pizza places, a gold wedding band, a dead goldfish and a scrabble piece in their collection kettles.  Those are strange but small objects, able to fit through the small slot in the kettle. How the donor fit the gold bars into the slot is unknown.

The kettle tradition dates back to 1891, when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was looking for a way to fund holiday dinners for the poor. He decided to use a pot to collect money, with a sign that read “Keep the Pot Boiling.”

Today, the Salvation Army helps more than 4.5 million people during the holidays, providing poor families with toys and Christmas food baskets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Select Salvation Army Bellringers to Accept Credit Cards This Year

Scott Olson/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The image is familiar: a bright red bucket and a Salvation Army volunteer ringing a powerful bell with a wooden handle, and coins clinking into the bucket.

From classic movies like Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life to modern favorites like TV's Friends, the red kettle is a symbol of giving during the holiday season.

The Salvation Army bellringer is now moving into the digital age with a new feature: Square.

Square is both the name of a product and the San Francisco-based company that produces it, co-founded by Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter. The postage-stamp-sized device connects to iPhones, iPad and Androids through the headphone jack and turns the gadget into a cashier with the ability to swipe credit cards and make secure payments through a free downloadable app.

The increasingly popular gadet is already being used around the country in food trucks, salons, pumpkin patches and even lawyers' offices.

And starting around Thanksgiving, 10 Salvation Army kettle volunteers in San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago and New York will be equipped with a Square in addition to their bell and kettle.

"We have to be aware of where consumers make transactions. Many people don't want to keep cash in their pockets and are working from credit or debit cards to make donations," Major George Hood, the National Community Relations and Development Secretary for the Salvation Army, told ABC News. "We think it's a way to stay in touch with the consumer who doesn't carry money in their pockets."

The Red Kettle Campaign began on a San Francisco wharf in 1891 when a Salvation Army officer was trying to find a unique way collect food for the needy during the holiday season. He put out a big pot and asked people to donate food, which they did, but he also noticed that people were throwing money in.

"It worked. And from that, it spread all across the country, from West to East," said Hood, who even recalls his own days as a 12-year-old schoolboy volunteering for the Salvation Army and collecting money outside of his local Sears.

Over the past 120 years, the practice has become a tradition and a pop culture standard. Now, the bellringer force is made up of more than 25,000 people each year.

In 2010, people tossed more than $142 million into the kettles, helping buy food, toys and other holiday necessitates for the needy. All of the money donated to local kettles stays in the community.

But Hood said that over the past decade, he began to notice "a transition from a traditional fundraising model to an electronic world and a digital model taking over."

The organization tried credit card terminals at the kettle stands, but found that people did not want to stand around, often in the cold, waiting for the process. But, last summer, Hood was introduced to Square and was instantly interested.

"We just said, 'This is so simple, we've got to try it at the kettle,'" he said. "We've gone from collecting from an old pot to state-of-the-art credit card reading technology."

Hood said he already has Salvation Army members all over the country calling and asking to be part of the move into the digital age, and he said there's a good chance expansion of the technique is in the organization's future.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Thrift Stores Gaining in Great Recession

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Second-hand shops once considered the bottom-of-the-barrel for shoppers are getting a boost as consumers living the great recession discover better inventory and bargains.

Walmart, the world's largest retailer, saw comparable store sales decline by 1.5 percent year-to-date, according to investment research firm Morningstar. Meanwhile, its competitor Target had a soft third quarter with comparable store sales up only slightly by 1.6 percent, according to Morningstar.

On the other hand, the thrift shops are enjoying an expansion of sales and customers.

"Our transaction growth has grown by over 30 percent over the last two years but the bulk has been over the last year," says George Erickson, the Salvation Army's Northern California director of retail, based in San Francisco. "All of these extra transactions had to come from some place -- it's my conclusion that all these customers have stepped down from the Kohl's, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Macy's and Nordstrom."

Since the start of the recession that has led to more than 8 million lost jobs, The Salvation Army has seen sales grow from $499 million in 2007 to $542 million in 2009.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio