Some acts of charity are as simple as dropping spare change into a Salvation Army kettle. The Salvation Army bell ringers and the collection kettles are virtually an American classic Christmas scene. The Salvation Army says the buckets are a small but important part of the organization's fund-raising efforts.
Last year throughout San Diego County, the kettles collected $250,000, which went to cover the expenses of the Salvation Army's holiday programs, its eight shelters and its social programs. At Christmas, the group provides 60,000 families in the county with food, toys and support services.
At Christmastime, the ranks of volunteer soldiers swell, from about 2,000 to 3,000. "Our list of people who need help is longer this year," said the Salvation Army's Russ Russell. "San Diego County is a tough area to live in. Many families are one paycheck away from being on the street."