TOPEKA (KSNT) – Saturday marks the first day of the iconic Red Kettles and bells at retailers across Topeka.

The theme for this year’s campaign is “Hope Marches On.” There will be Red Kettle sites at 22 different retailers and restaurants around the Topeka area. The season was kicked off by the Washburn Marching Icabods during a performance that coordinated with the organizations theme on Friday.

The kettles will be out from Nov. 19 to Dec 24.

“Our goal this year is to show people the myriad of ways they can get involved to make a positive impact here in the Topeka community,” said Captain Cristian Lopez-Azompa, commander of The Salvation Army Topeka corps. “From donating in a kettle to donating your time by ringing at a kettle, there’s a lot of ways the public can support our community this holiday season.”

This year, there are more options to donate via smartphone. Donors can use Paypal, Venmo, Apple Pay and Google Pay, or at

The kettle has been around for decades, but the idea first came from Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee in the 1890s. He wanted to make a difference for those facing poverty in San Francisco.

When thinking about how to fund a Christmas dinner for those struggling to make ends meet, he remembered the idea of a “Simpson’s Pot.” When McFee was a sailor in England, he remembered how boats would come in and people would toss money in the pot to help those who needed it. He started doing the same thing, and soon enough was able to help feed people at Christmas time.

Anyone who is interested in signing up to be a bell ringer at one of the kettle locations can sign up at The website gives volunteers the option to ring bells as a group, individual or conduct an online fundraiser.

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