BROOKSVILLE — "Keep the Pot Boiling."
Those were the words printed on a sign that sat next to the first Salvation Army red kettle, placed on Market Street in San Francisco in 1891.
Imitating the use of a kettle to collect money for the poor that he'd seen during his days as a sailor on a wharf in Liverpool, England, Salvation Army Capt. Joseph McFee set out that first kettle to so he could provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty stricken. It was a success.
More than a century later, the Salvation Army's red kettle campaign is still being used throughout the United States, as well as in several foreign countries, to make the holidays a bit more pleasant for those in need. The campaign also supplies a large portion of the funds the organization uses throughout the year to help the less fortunate and provide Christian-based programs.
Lts. Herb and JoAnn Frazier, who took over the command of the Hernando County corps in June, have been married 11 years; they have been officers in the corps for four years and have an 8-year-old daughter, Kiara.
The officers are hoping this year's red kettle campaign will be a huge success.
"We've signed up over 900 children to receive assistance for Christmas, all from Hernando County," Herb Frazier said. "Over 250 children will be receiving toys and clothes through our programs."
The ministry is also handing out more than 200 Thanksgiving baskets.
"People who donate to our campaigns will be helping kids from low-income families," JoAnn Frazier said.
Along with the kettles, another Christmastime endeavor is the Angel Tree project, which provides gifts to needy children — infant to age 12 — whose names are placed on paper angels that are then hung on trees in stores around the county. Individuals as well as businesses are encouraged to become sponsors.
"People can go in and adopt a child by taking an angel from the trees at locations like the two Cracker Barrels in the county and All Tire and Wheel in Spring Hill," JoAnn Frazier said. "They can also visit us at the Salvation Army if they're interested."
When an angel is selected from an Angel Tree, the person adopting a child will find the child's first name, age, clothing sizes, plus their wish and their need.
Sponsors purchase items for the child and return the unwrapped gifts to the place where they selected the angel, along with the part of the angel that gives the child's code so the gifts can be matched to the correct child.
The last day to adopt and return the angels and gifts is Dec. 13.
For the second year, the Salvation Army has teamed with Walmart stores nationwide for its Fill the Truck campaign. A bin for people to donate toys and coats will be available at local Walmart stores through Dec. 15. A Salvation Army truck will also be available for collecting items on weekends at the Walmart on Cortez Boulevard in Spring Hill.
Volunteers will hand out wish lists to Walmart customers as they enter the store.
The couple are also looking for volunteers to ring bells at the red kettles.
Individuals or groups are needed from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
Money raised from the kettles provides about one-third of the funds to meet the corps' yearly budget to assist the needy with necessities such as rent, utilities and food. It also helps cover operating expenses.
Services offered by the local corps include Sunday school at 9:45 a.m. and a worship service at 11 a.m. each Sunday, a food bank from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and a meal served to the homeless out of the Salvation Army mobile canteen at 5 p.m. each Friday at Hernando Park in downtown Brooksville.
Helping people is dear to the Fraziers' hearts. Now in their early 30s, they have both been involved with the Salvation Army since they were teenagers.
"I've always had a passion for people," JoAnn Frazier said. "I love to serve people and be an encouragement, and I'm a good listener."
"Out of all the commandments, Jesus said the greatest two are to love God with all your heart and to love people — love your neighbor as yourself," Herb Frazier said. "If loving people means handing out canned goods, I'm going to love you. If it means giving you a hand up, I'm going to love you. And I'm going to love you with the love of the Lord."