Sounds of the season: Bell ringers are back in front of stores

Sounds of the season: Bell ringers are back in front of stores

EUGENE, Ore. -- It is a familiar sound that many identify with the holidays; Salvation Army bell ringers posted at the entrances of popular retail stores.

The Salvation Army kicked off it's Red Kettle Campaign locally at the W. 11th Fred Meyer store in Eugene on Saturday. 

According to the charity's website, the red kettle donation box idea originated in 1891 when Salvation Army captain Joseph McFee wanted to feed thousands of San Fransisco's poorest people on Christmas Day.

In order to fund the project, McFee posted people next to a Navy-issued iron kettle, asking passersby for donations. Each coin tossed into those kettles, originally called "Simpson's pots", went to feed the poor.

For modern-day bell ringers like Candy Smith, the holiday project aimed at helping the hungry still hold an important part in local communities.

"I've been doing this for the last three years," said Smith. "It really helps a lot of people ... that's our main goal."

The Salvation Army said that it provides assistance to 4,500,000 people around the country from Thanksgiving through the holidays.

The success of McFee's project has caused similar campaigns involving red kettles to be adopted overseas in Korea, Japan and many European countries.