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Salvation Army Red Kettle Kicks Off in Hutchinson


By Lucky Kidd


HUTCHINSON, Kan. — With the ceremonial dropping of the coins by downtown Hutchinson businessmen Chris Barnes from Smith’s Market, Mark Buckley from the Toy Depot and Kevin Rule from The Sleep Shoppe and Furniture Gallery, the Hutchinson Salvation Army kicked off their 2023 Red Kettle Campaign Thursday.

Buckley and Rule have had a friendly competition going on for several years to see who could get the most donations in the kettles in front of their stores, with Barnes joining in a few years ago. Rule was the top fundraiser in the group in 2022.

Another kickoff event was held as part of Third Thursday, during which a large kettle was lit in Grasshopper Park at the southeast corner of Main and Avenue A, at which the Salvation Army Christmas Brass Band performed and free hot chocolate and coffee was provided.

Bell ringing will get underway Saturday at half of their locations around Hutchinson, and city-wide the day after Thanksgiving. Salvation Army Major Paul James said this year’s overall fundraising goal is 350 thousand dollars, 75 thousand of which is raised through the Kettles. This helps support not only their Christmas programs but other services it provides throughout the year.

James said in 2022 they served just over one thousand kids with gifts, and 915 families with a total of 2700 people benefiting from the food baskets. As of Thursday, there were already some 800 families registered with two weeks of registration to go, a number which is ahead of where they were in 2022 at this point. Registrations are being taken through December 5th at their office at 700 North Walnut in Hutchinson.

In addition to putting money into the kettles, you can also make donations online through a QR code at each kettle or by way of Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo and Bump on your phone. Another way you can help is by being a bell ringer, and you can sign up yourself or your group for that online at

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle tradition dates from 1891 in San Francisco, where the Captain there wanted to provide a Christmas dinner for 1,000 of the area’s poor but didn’t know how he was going to pay for it. Drawing from his sailor’s days in England, he set up a crab pot at the ferry landing where passers-by could throw in their spare change, and that was how he cooked Christmas dinner.

The bell part of the tradition started in 1900 when Amelia Kunkel, a teenage volunteer in New York, became frustrated with the many Wall Street bankers who walked by and ignored her. The Major overseeing her suggested hitting the kettle with a stick, but she had a different idea. Kunkel went to a nearby Woolworth’s store, invested ten cents in a small bell, and the rest is history.