The Salvation Army’s cheery red kettle has been a familiar sight around the holidays for more than 128 years.
What began humbly by feeding 1,000 people in San Francisco in 1891 now serves 4.5 million. In Nashville, The Salvation Army holds The Red Kettle Challenge, which invites anyone to adopt their own kettle with the goal of raising $1,000. Each time that goal is reached, The Salvation Army is able to house one local person for a month.
“We help people who've been displaced and living on the street move into supportive housing, and we walk with them on their journey until they move into a home of their own,” says Major Ethan Frizzell, area commander for The Salvation Army in Nashville.
The organization moves countless gifts, kettles, volunteers and services during this time, making it necessary to rent extra vehicles to handle the increased holiday volume. Last year, an enthusiastic partnership was struck with MINI of Nashville to wrap a MINI with the call to action of The Red Kettle Challenge. It also provides significant savings to a more-than-worthy organization.
“Dave was prepared to help when we walked in,” recalls Maj. Frizzell. “He said, ‘We love The Salvation Army, we love the community, we’d love to help.”
“Once I knew that 100% of the money stays locally and they were trying to reacclimate people into society as opposed to just applying a Band-Aid, that did it for me,” says David Dorsano, MINI of Nashville general manager. “And they were aligned with my faith, so it was a done deal. It really has nothing to do with us or publicity. There are some personal reasons I wanted to help them, and as long as I’m at this store, I’m going to keep supporting them.”
"With The Mini Kettle car's wrap and contemporary look, [the MINI] makes The Salvation Army kettle a more regular part of more family conversations,” Maj. Frizzell says. “Families point the car out, and it gives us the opportunity to share the message of the benefit of the kettle–one of the most iconic and simple ways of giving in the United States.”
The MINI provides a new, more modern approach for sharing compassion with those in need.
“Part of the reason the MINI is so important is because the retail market is changing as more people are shopping online or not carrying cash. The MINI brings the kettle to where people are in Nashville. We may or may not be at the store they go to anymore, but we are in traffic with them in a nice new MINI with a call to action to change lives.”
Donations can be made in person or online. The Salvation Army and MINI Cooper also are available to be scheduled for special events.
David summarizes it best: “We all know there are homeless people. For me, I looked at homeless people like the majority of them were homeless [due to] choices or decisions they made. That was a long time ago. Once I realized there are people who are literally homeless by no choice of their own, [I realized] you can’t look down on them. Try to reach out your hand. We all say we wish the world would end homelessness, but how many times has one of us seen someone who we knew was homeless and said hello? We stop short of engaging in some way with the individual, and sometimes all it takes is someone to say hello and it can change their life. Too many people end up taking their own life or hurt others. We want to [do what we can] to right that ship.”
“The Red Kettle Challenge allows families and corporations to be a part of something bigger than themselves in a very joyous effort that celebrates how communities coming together at Christmas can change the lives of others.”