With Christmas having officially come to Kenai the sounds of bells and happy smiles from those standing at the Salvation Army Kettles is also underway. Kicking off the Kettle ringing this year was a $1,000 check from First National Bank Alaska (FNBA). Charlie Weimer and Brendyn Shiflea of the Soldotna and Kenai FNBA branches were the first to stuff an oversized check into the Kettle last week, “We love giving back to the community we love doing business in and First National Bank Alaska is very happy to again this year present a check to the Salvation Army to help kick off the friendly competition between the Rotary Clubs here on the Central Peninsula,” said Weimer. “Competition is motivation and Kenai expects to win this year, but all in all each club member is bell ringing for the same purpose to raise money for the work that the Salvation Army does here in our community. It’s all in fun and were proud to help out with this annual event,” added Shiflea. Soldotna Rotarians will do their bell ringing at Fred Myers and Kenai Rotarians at Wal-Mart. As an addition this year at the Soldotna location Jenna Hansen of Nikiski will be bringing her live reindeer “Crash” in full Christmas regalia for free photo opportunities for anyone shopping that day.
According the Craig Fanning of the Salvation Army this is an important time of the year, “The Kettles are a major source of fund raising for the Salvation Army, last year this generous community with the help of service organizations and gifts like this from FNBA raised about $50,000 that goes to the services that we provide here locally such as our Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas food packages and toys. The needs haven’t diminished this year and anyone wishing assistance is welcome to come by and fill out an application at our family services office next door to the Thrift Store in Kenai,” said Fanning. The story of the first red kettle goes back to 1891 when a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco wanted to do something to provide a Christmas dinner to the poor in that city. Not having any money he got a pot and placed it by the foot of San Francisco’s busy Market with a sign that read, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” The success of his efforts in raising enough money to feed the poor spread quickly through the ranks of the Salvation and by the turn of the century kettles in most major cities across the country.