Ready for holiday giving, Salvation Army installs giant Red Kettle in Times Square

The lighting of trees and menorahs are an annual occurrence throughout the city; however, Dec. 1 marked the debut of the world’s largest Red Kettle in Times Square, just in time for Giving Tuesday and the holiday season.

With COVID-19 inhibiting volunteers from the Salvation Army to personally gather donations from the street, the charity has devised a way to garner both financial contributions and passerby’s attention through the installation of a 7 foot, 6 inch aluminum Red Kettle.

This symbol of the century old organization hangs from a 32-foot-high stand on the pedestrian walkway between 44th and 45th streets in the heart of Manhattan.

“We launched our world’s largest kettle today to draw attention to the fact that the need of the New York area is very great, and the Salvation Army stands ready to meet that need with the generous support of New Yorkers,” said Major Kevin Stoops, chief operating officer for the Salvation Army in the New York Region.

A monument to giving and good will, the Kettle comes equipped with LED lights that flash a spectrum of hues when a donation is made via text message to 41444 with the words Giant Red Kettle, alerting everyone nearby that a generous gift was just made.

Stoops shared that with the pandemic, the amount of on the street donations has decreased.

“It’s less, we are still able to do it under the current rules that the administration has put through, but it’s less. We have less stands around the city, and so being able to text to give is very helpful. People can still support us even without seeing a red kettle,” he said.

The Salvation Army’s brass band played holiday classics during their kettle launch ceremony. (Photo by Dean Moses)

The lighting commenced with members of the Salvation Army’s brass band playing holiday classics, such as “Joy to the World” and “We Wish you a Merry Christmas,” before officials christened the Kettle with speeches.

“As I look at this beautiful symbol of hope for millions of New Yorkers, my heart is filled with joy. As this kettle travels, it will remind all who see it of how great the needs of our community are and that the Salvation Army is always there to help,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Fernandez, New York’s Divisional Commander at the Salvation Army.

The charity is not only facing a harder time this year due to fewer volunteers, but a greater hardship thanks to the lack of tourists visiting New York City landmarks. The pandemic has crippled tourism in addition to income, less feet flooding the city streets likewise means less people able to give.

The Kettle will remain at Times Square until Dec. 6 before being moved around the city until returning to Times Square on Christmas Day.

On Giving Tuesday, this kettle is a part of the Salvation Army’s nationwide campaign, “Help Rescue Christmas,” for those who are facing hunger, job loss and poverty, all of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.