With only minutes left in its annual Red Kettle Christmas fundraising drive and mailer campaign, the Tamaqua Salvation Army Corps, located on West Broad Street, reached its set goal of donations required every year to help thousands of local and less fortunate families in Carbon and eastern Schuylkill County benefit from yearly health and wellness services.

"For the holidays alone, more than 800 local families in Carbon and eastern Schuylkill county received some form of assistance from our Salvation Army," said Major Sharon Whispell. "In addition to all those families, thousands of more families will also benefit throughout the year from many of the services we offer."

The holidays are peak time for the Salvation Army Corps Red Kettle Christmas fundraising campaign, the primary fundraiser for the corps. The annual Red Kettle Christmas fundraising campaign started in the early 1890s when a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco set up a crab pot at Oakland Ferry Landing to collect money for the poor at Christmas. The campaign has since become one of the longest-running and most recognizable fundraising efforts in the world. Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile and throughout Europe.

In addition to the usual charitable holiday expenses, donations are needed year-round to cover many of the Salvation Army's expenses, such as building maintenance, heating, social services, food, programs, disaster services, and the few paid staff. The Tamaqua Salvation Army offers many year-round programs and benefits, such as monthly food offerings, church services, food, toys, clothing, emergency hotel vouchers, seasonal heating and rental assistance, meals, senior and youth programs, financial education classes, computer classes, facilities for community events, and many other community-oriented projects.

The first Salvation Army was founded in London, England in 1865 by former Methodist minister William Booth. Booth abandoned the conventional concept of a church and a pulpit, instead taking his message of spiritual salvation directly to the people in particular the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute of Victorian-era London.

National Salvation Army Week was first declared by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. In the proclamation, Eisenhower noted, "Among Americans, The Salvation Army has long been a symbol of wholehearted dedication to the cause of human brotherhood. Their work has been a constant reminder to us all that each of us is neighbor and kin to all Americans. Giving freely of themselves, the men and women of The Salvation Army have won the respect of us all."

Last year, the Tamaqua Salvation Army Corps directly provided more than 3,000 social services to residents living in eastern Schuylkill and Carbon counties. That number only reflects documented assistance, and doesn't reflect other free services like disaster response, community meals, food baskets, food vouchers, church services, community involvement activities, and various other youth and senior programs routinely offered by the Tamaqua branch.

At the Tamaqua Salvation Army, letters are still coming in from many appreciative families who received support from the Salvation Army for the holidays.

"Without all the caring support, volunteers and kind donations provided by many local businesses, organizations and individuals in Carbon and Eastern Schuylkill county, we would not have been able to reach our goal," said Whispell.