Salvation Army Whitecenter Corps Kettles

The Salvation Army United States of America
Western Territory (USA West)
Northwest Division
Seattle, Washington

Salvation Army Whitecenter Corps Kettles Is a page about my work with the Whitecenter Christmas Kettle Campaign as a soldier of The Salvation Army Seattle Temple Corps.


When my wife and I returned to Seattle from Texas, we looked up a lot of Salvationists friends from the times we had been in Seattle before. "The Director" had been one of my best friends while I was in high school. We were in band camps together and played in the Northwest Divisional Band of the Salvation Army together. One day, "The Director" called me up and told me he was working at the Whitecenter Corps in Seattle. He said he was in charge of the Christmas kettle fund drive at the Whitcenter Corps of the Salvation Army. He asked me if I would be interested in working for the Whitecenter Corps during the Christmas season. This was about a year and a half after our return to Seattle. The first Christmas season after we returned I had spent playing my Euphonium at a couple of kettles in the malls. I told "The Director" that I would be happy to work at Whitecenter. I was getting bored.

When I got to the Whitecenter Corps, I met Captain Winters. Captain Winters had amassed a huge list of stores that would allow kettles to be placed near their doors. It was over 30 locations. Captain Winters also had acquired a coin counting machine. I personally believe this machine saved the Whitecenter Corps around $500 per night that the kettles were in operation. With this machine, we were able to know exactly how many pennies we received, how many nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollar coins we received.

At that time, the Salvation Army in the Western Territory was using only some strange kind of computer whose name completely escapes me. I couldn't believe the screwball arrangement the Salvation Army had with this company. There was no way for the Salvation Army to write software for this computer. There was absolutely no way for a local repair shop to repair these computers. If ANYTHING went wrong with the computer at ANY corps, the computer had to be packed in a box and shipped to Divisional Headquarters. If software was to be installed, the computer had to be shipped to Divisional Headquarters.

When "The Director" told me what we were going to do with the kettles and kettle workers, I was appointed a driver and kettle worker supervisor. I was to take the kettle workers out to the kettle locations. I was also to help "The Director" interview and hire kettle workers. We had "pep rallies" and prayer service at the beginning of the day for all of the kettle workers. I had a top of the line Macintosh computer at home so I designed and printed up forms to keep track of the kettles, locations and workers. Then I asked "The Director" what kind of programs were on the Corps computers. I discovered that they had a program called "Kettle Worker." This program kept track of the addresses, phone numbers and all contact information for kettle workers so that they could be rehired from one year to the next. There was nothing on these computers to do the same for soldiers in the Corps. You could not have a corps mailing list for your members unless you adapted the "Kettle Worker" program. I thought this was very odd.

The gold mine in this weird computer was the totally outmoded Spreadsheet. I told "The Director" that I thought we could make use of the spreadsheet program to keep track of the money AND the workers and we could improve the overall performance of the fund raising if we used the computer. He gave me access to a computer and I created spread sheet programs for the fund raising. Using the spread sheet program on the computer, we kept track of EVERY denomination of coin bill and check that came into each individual kettle. I could tell "The Director" how many pennies came into any particular kettle at any particular location and any particular kettle worker for any date that a kettle was in use.

The combined use of the coin counting machine and the computer saved the Whitecenter corps many thousands of dollars. After the very first night that we deposited any money in the bank, we got a phone call from the bank the next day telling us that our money count was off by $500. Captain Winters took the count from the coin counting machine to the bank and after a short discussion, the bank admitted it was THEIR mistake simply because of the coin counting machine. After I got the spreadsheet going, we never heard from the bank much again. This program was so effective that I could catch kettle workers who were stealing money from the kettles. One day, "The Director" came in and said a store manager had called and claimed he had seen a kettle worker taking money out of the kettle. I said, "'Director', don't say any more. I'll tell you who it is."

I whacked away at the keyboard for a minute or two and named the suspect, the kettle number and the store where the theft had taken place. He said, "How on earth did you do that?" It was simple, With the database we had accumulated, we could calculate how many twenty dollar bills should be in each kettle. This guy only had two twenty dollar bills when he should have had ten or more. It was simple. I found the very first day he took money from the kettles. I won't tell you how he did it, but he could only get bills out of the kettle. The hole in the top and the shape of the kettle makes it virtually impossible to steal any worthwhile amount of coins without attracting the police and everybody in ear shot. We kept precise records of each denomination of coin, bill and check for each kettle each day. I majored in Physics at the University of Washington so I had numerical and statistical analysis down pat.

Every morning, when "The Director" walked in, I would have two graphs printed up for him and hanging on the wall. On one graph were all of the kettle locations sorted with the highest producing kettle at the top in descending order of income to the poorest producing kettle on the bottom. The other graph was of all of the kettle workers with the highest producing kettle worker at the top and the rest in descending order so the lowest producing worker was at the bottom. Mind you, this was an OLD spreadsheet program. Even then, a kid with a Commodore 64 had more computing power and flexibility than the corps officer possessed.

These computers were selected on the basis of the decision of one man at the head of the Salvation Army Western Territory Finance Department. The bar graph was made by displaying asterisks going off to the right. "The Director" could see at a glance what the difference between the highest producing kettles and workers and the lowest. The difference was dramatic. The high producers produced at a rate ten times the amount of the low producers. We developed a policy of simply firing the one or two bottom producing workers and quitting the bottom one or two kettle sites each day. This was done after reviewing the history of the worker and the locations.

We began getting pohone calls from the computer gurus at The Salvation Army Northwest Divisional Headquarters asking us what we were doing with the computers. They had never seen anybody do anything like this before and couldn't figure out what we were doing or how we were doing it. We got calls from an officer at Divisional Headquarters asking us to analyze the income of another Salvation Army entity because their income was nothing like ours. I simply told him what we would be doing in that situation but we could not be in any way compared with any other corps or entity because we were the only people in the division with a coin counting machine and I was the only person in the Division who was using the computer in that way.

Hiring and supervising the kettle workers was interesting. We literally hired anybody off the street who wasn't drunk or whose eyes weren't glazed over from drugs. We used the "Kettle Worker" program and records from prior years to rehire kettle workers who had been prior producers. One day, a big guy came in pushing a girl in a wheelchair. This should look good at a kettle. A girl in a wheelchair ringing a bell at a kettle ought to bring in a good amount of money. The guy was employed just to push the girl around wherever she needed to go. The girl was going to apply for the job and the guy was going to drop her off, kill time for the rest of the day, and then pick up the girl. We thought this was a waste and hired both of them.

We would drop the girl off at one kettle location and the guy at another nearby location. This guy was immediately at the top of our income graph every day. He was absolutely fantastic. He would sing at the kettle and open the door of the store for everybody. We sat and watched him and he put on a great show. It was his lifestyle. On Saturday, he had his three brothers volunteer to help him and they became a "full gospel" male quartet singing really fantastic home made arrangements of Christmas carols. He was so good, that when the Christmas season was over, we found him another job working for the Salvation Army so he would be available the next year for kettle work.

One day we got a call from a store. The store manager told us our kettle worker hadn't moved in twenty minutes. "The Director" said, "Well, it's not time for his break yet." The manager said, "That's not what I mean. I mean he hasn't moved at all. One second he's ringing the bell and all of a sudden he just stopped. He's still holding the bell out as if he's ringing it, but he hasn't even twitched in twenty minutes. He's just staring off into space." We drove over to the location and he was still staring off into space, holding the bell out in front of him as if in mid swing, but he wasn't moving. We replace him and took him back to the corps. "The Director" fired him. His dad came to give him a ride home and then explained his condition to us. After we heard what his problem was, we put him back out again and his father would come by every fifteen minutes or so to reboot him. It worked out OK.

All of the kettle workers could see the graphs that we made up and hung on the wall. they couldn't see the amount of money coming into the kettles but they could see their relative positions on the graph. One day "The Director" told me he was going to fire a woman who hadn't been producing. I took a look at the charts and said, "We ought to give her one more chance. Three days ago she got a good return and I think if we move her to a new location, she'll do better." So "The Director" moved her. The next day, she brought in over a thousand dollars. This is how we used the graphs. We tried to match the worker with the location where they would produce the most money.

On another occasion, a kettle worker came in and declared that he was going to be the top producer that day. There was a little competition going on amongst the workers. That day, he was around a thousand dollars higher than his average day. We discovered that he had put in a thousand dollars into his own kettle. I thought that was cheating but we gave him first place and kept his money. He donated more money that day than he earned for the whole season.

The two years that I worked for "The Director" and Captain Winters, the Whitecenter corps brought in 60% of all of the kettle income in King County, Washingtn, among all of the different Salvation Army entities collecting money using Christmas kettles. These included Service Extension, the Whitecenter Corps, the Renton Corps, The Seattle Temple Corps, and the downtown entities. Nobody else was even in the ballpark. The total kettle income for King County, Washington, these two years was about $500,000 per year. We, at the Whietcenter Corps brought in about $300,000 of the $500,000 amount each year.

A. Salinas Music Day Camp B.  Seattle Temple Young People's Band
C.  Outreach D. Our 15 Passenger Van
E. Hospital Visitation F. Bonna, the Burden Bearer
G. Oasis of Love, The Corps Pamphlet H. Christmas Kettles, Whitecenter Corps
I. Evangelism Explosion

Back to the Radiant Crest

 Visit Register to find old friends. Tell which Salvation Army corps you have attended in the past and now. Your friends will be able to find you. We've found friends we hadn't seen in thirty years within minutes after registering.

 Visit the website of

The War College of The Salvation Army

in Vancouver, Canada

Just 120 miles or so north of The Seattle Temple Corps.

 Tell your Salvation Army friends about this website. Chapter Ten about our Seattle Temple Corps Experience is going to be very interesting, but you have to read every chapter in order to understand Chapter 10. You won't be disappointed.


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Dan Ross Bonna Ross Jordana Ross Dan & Bonna Ross Dan and Bonna Ross drdan71, cornucopiagenealogica 09/30/03

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