2-year-old Asa stuffs the Salvation Army Kettle to help other families have a Happy Holiday.
The sound of those silver bells and the dedication of volunteers combined for a record breaking Rotary Salvation Army Kettle drive this season, according to Lt. Craig Fanning, of the local Salvation Army. “It was really an amazing effort and we are very appreciative of the three local Rotary Clubs and their friendly competition that raised just under $6,400 this year, that’s $2,000 more than has ever been raised before and represents more than 152 volunteer hours from these community minded Rotarians who stand at our Kettles in addition to all the other service work they do this time of year, it was very impressive,” said Fanning.
It has become a Rotary Bell ringing tradition that the club who raises the most money for the Salvation Army gets to keep a brass bell trophy along with bragging rights for the following year. Once again this year the Soldotna Rotary Club will retain the bell having held a narrow $200 margin over the Kenai Club. Two years ago after having lost the prized trophy to Kenai, the Soldotna Club acquired a “Reindeer Bell” that was credited with regaining the trophy last year. This year the Soldotna Club added a harness of authentic sleigh bells and would even sing along with the silver bells as they passed out candy canes to youngsters shopping with their parents at Fred Myers. “Its fun and I love serving our community,” said Lisa Roberts while ringing the sleigh bells. Soldotna City Manager Tom Boedeker who was also at the Kettle with the Reindeer Bell debated whether sleigh bells were actually worn by the horse or placed on the sleigh. An official ruling is expected sometime before Christmas of 2008.
According to Lt. Fanning the tradition of the Salvation Army Kettle drive started in about 1889 when a female Salvation Army officer in San Francisco went to the Ferry Terminal with a large soup caldron and sign that said, “Keep the pot boiling, she was raising money for the homeless and soup kitchen there and she did so well that it became a Salvation Army tradition nation wide and is our major source of fund raising.” Fanning says that their local Christmas effort that starts during Thanksgiving and goes through Christmas Eve raises about one third of their total budget. Other organizations that stand for the Salvation Army Kettle drive include members of the Catholic Church in Soldotna, Central Emergency Services personnel, and the staff of Redoubt Elementary school in addition to individual volunteers. Over all the Kettle Drive is expected to raise about $50,000 for the Salvation Army work in the local area.
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