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Red Kettle campaign underway

Jay Wolf, ringing his Salvation Army bell on Friday, Nov. 23, also sang Christmas carols to add to his stint at the Red Kettle.

In 1891, Captain Joseph McFee wanted to help the poor people in San Francisco, especially for the coming Christmas season, but he didn't know where to get funding for his project.

He remembered, during his earlier days as a sailor in Liverpool, England, seeing a large kettle called "Simpson's Pot" where passengers of boats that docked at Stage Landing tossed coins to help the poor.

The following day Captain McFee placed a pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing. Beside the pot was a sign that read "Keep the Pot Boiling." He was able to collect enough donations to have a Christmas dinner for the poor people.

Captain McFee's idea spread and in 1897, a nationwide effort was able to fund 150,000 Christmas dinners for the poor. In 1901 donations from New York City funded a sit-down dinner at Madison Square Garden.

Today, The Salvation Army in St. Croix County provides rent, utilities, transportation and medication assistance to families and individuals in need.

The organization also provides milk coupons to all food pantries in the county. Individuals and families receive a milk coupon when they visit their local food pantry, coupons are then redeemed with a local merchant for one gallon of milk.

The Salvation Army Happy Kids Backpack program provides more than 120 families with nutritious food each week. Children in the New Richmond School District, Somerset School Districts and St. Croix County Head Start that participate in the free and reduced lunch program have the opportunity to participate in this program.

Law enforcement officers were able to assist 25 children with school clothes this fall. Offices nominated children in their area; children were selected and given an opportunity to shop with the officer. For many of these children this was their first experience purchasing new clothes.

Salvation Army operates one mass shelter located in Somerset (Grace Place) housing 124 individuals. Last year the organization provided more than 7,000 peaceful nights of sleep to individuals in the community. A family shelter located in Somerset provides emergency shelter for one family up to 90 days.

In addition transitional housing services are provided to 35 families in the community, giving them an opportunity to remain in their current housing paying 30 percent of their income. The Salvation Army subsidizes the additional portion of their rent while providing weekly case management to assist the family in reaching their goals towards self-sufficiency.

Money collected through the Red Kettles is used to help our friends and neighbors. About 89 percent of the funds collected in St. Croix County stay right in our area. Demand for services has increased over 300 percent during the past year; many folks are coming to us in need for the first time.

Last year the Salvation Army raised $100,000, however the organization ran short prior to the end of the fiscal year. This year's goal is $110,000.

"This is a very ambitious goal," admitted Duana Bremer, the local organization's director. "But, with a little help from a lot of different people, we know we can make this happen."

The community's help is needed to assist friends and neighbors that are less fortunate, Bremer said.

Area residents can help in four ways: Call 715-485-1221 to schedule a time to ring bells; to ring bells go to and sign up on line; go to the online Red Kettle click on find a kettle then click on St. Croix County and make a donation; or send a contribution to our office at 20203 Church Hill Road, Somerset WI 54025.