Editorial: As the Salvation Army's annual Red Kettle Campaign kicks off, please consider donating or volunteering

The Salvation Army's annual Red Kettle Campaign began in 1891 as a modest fundraiser by Salvation Army Capt. Joseph McFee in San Francisco. In the years since, it has grown to raise millions of dollars each year for the nonprofit organization.

Red Kettle drives are held in towns throughout the United States. Their reach extends to countries such as Chile, China, Japan and many European countries. The Salvation Army in Dalton has been a proud participant in the Red Kettle drive for decades.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Dalton Salvation Army's annual Red Kettle Campaign kicked off at the group's headquarters off Thornton Avenue. You'll start to see those red kettles out today as shoppers in Whitfield, Murray and Gordon counties see the kettles accompanied by bell-ringers outside of retail and grocery stores.

The campaign is simple. As the volunteers ring their bell, passers-by drop change, bills or checks into the kettle. The kettles have a technological advancement this year. On each kettle stand are markers where people can donate digitally through Apple Pay or Google Pay by scanning their phones.

The agency's goal is to raise $105,000 this holiday season. That money is then used to fund programs in the community throughout the year. The Red Kettle Campaign is the Salvation Army's largest fundraiser of the year.

Bell-ringers will be at Big Lots, Food City, Hobby Lobby, Walgreens and Walmart in the three-county area each day except on Sundays and Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24.

Volunteers are needed for shifts throughout the week. Individuals, service and business groups are welcome to participate. If you'd like to volunteer, call the Salvation Army at (706) 278-3966 for more information.

"We'd like to thank in advance everyone for their donations," said Patricia Thompson, business manager/event coordinator for the Dalton Salvation Army. "We have a very giving community and we are really grateful for them."

The ringing of the bells is a Dalton tradition as much as the downtown Christmas parade, the illuminated star atop Mount Rachel and the presentations of the holiday ballets "The Snow Queen" and "The Nutcracker." We hope you are able to contribute to this worthy holiday tradition by donating, volunteering or both.

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