Inside Out 264: Does the Red Kettle Matter? with Captain John Merchant

12.19.12 | Martha Manikas-Foster

Listen to the interview with Cadet Dave Kelly

There’s probably not a person within earshot who hasn’t seen or heard a bell ringer at one of the Salvation Army’s red kettles. The kettles are how the Salvation Army collects the money needed to assist local families who’ve lost their jobs, their health, or their homes. Just between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Salvation Army in the United States helps four and a half million people, but the funds it raises through the red kettles in November and December keep local programs running all year long.

What a lot of people may not know is that the Salvation Army is more than a social service agency. The Salvation Army is a church, so when the Army gives food and toys at Christmas, or provides food, clothing, rent money and other services the rest of the year, the motivation is God’s call to love and care for each other, including—or perhaps especially—those Jesus called “the least of these.”

“We try to do our best to make sure that everybody in this community is going to have the whole year be nice, instead of just Christmas,” says Inside Out guest Salvation Army Captain John Merchant, of the Corning, NY Salvation Army corps. “We’re hoping to make a difference.”

Captain Merchant and his wife Captain Kimberly Merchant are in their 11th year as the corps officers serving the Corning, NY Citadel.  The Merchants head up the work of the Salvation Army for all of New York’s Steuben County.

Also joining us in conversation is Salvation Army pastor-in-training Cadet Dave Kelly. He’s three-quarters of the way through his education at the School for Officer Training in Suffern, NY. He’ll graduate in June as a church pastor with the Salvation Army rank of lieutenant. Right now he is assisting officers with their Christmas work in Waterville, Maine. He is also, I might add, my nephew.

“As a cadet . . . I’m helping out the corps officers with their Christmas castle and their toy and food distribution, and their kettles,” says Cadet Kelly. “But someday that’s going to be me on my own. And I’m going to carry on the torch and the mantle.  I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.” 

Click on the "Listen" icon to hear the interview with Captain John Merchant or click the link above to go to the interview with Cadet Dave Kelly.

To learn more about the Salvation Army and its many programs, or how you can “round up” your purchases and donate the difference to the Red Kettle Campaign, click here:


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