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Did You Know?

Interesting facts about The Salvation Army


  • The Salvation Army helps those in need 365 days a year.
  • Founded by William and Catherine Booth in 1865, The Salvation Army is an international organization and evangelical part of the universal Christian church that meets the physical and spiritual needs of people in 133 countries around the globe, without discrimination.
  • The Salvation Army is an Equal Opportunity Employer and committed to providing a respectful environment for all applicants and employees that is free from unlawful discrimination or harassment based on age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, disability, citizenship, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other characteristic protected by law. Such equal opportunity for employment will apply to recruitment and hiring, training, promotion, salaries and other compensation, transfers and layoffs or termination.
  • In providing its programs and services, The Salvation Army is committed to accommodating all those in need without unlawful discrimination or harassment based on age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, disability, citizenship, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other characteristic in accordance with our capacity to help.
  • The red shield dates from 1896 and serves as the trademark for the Army’s social services.
  • With more than 7,500 centers of operation and a presence in almost every zip code in the United States, The Salvation Army assisted 31 million individuals nationwide, including providing more than 225 million meals and nearly 10 million lodgings.
  • The Salvation Army assisted more than 4,000 survivors of Human Trafficking.
  • The Salvation Army assists more than 8.2 million people with basic social services each year.
  • When you shop at Salvation Army Thrift stores, you are supporting adult rehabilitation centers that annually help more than 160,000 people from every walk of life fight substance abuse and return to their communities as participating, contributing members.
  • The Salvation Army operates several domestic violence shelters nationwide, where abused women and children can get a fresh start in life, safely and confidentially.
  • The Salvation Army’s Alegria in Los Angeles provides transitional and permanent housing and specialized support services to homeless and low-income families affected by medical diagnoses such as HIV/AIDS.
  • The Salvation Army’s Community Care Ministries visited more than 1 million people with special needs in hospitals, nursing homes and group homes.
  • The Salvation Army facilitated more than 11,000 job placements year.
  • Nearly 2.7 million people volunteer for The Salvation Army nationwide. 
  • The red Christmas kettle debuted in San Francisco in 1891 in the guise of a crab pot.  A depression had thrown many out of work, including hundreds of seamen and longshoremen.  The campaign proved so successful that by 1900 it was imitated nationwide.  Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile, and throughout Europe.
  • In its 131st year, the annual Red Kettle campaign raised nearly $110 million in the U.S. in 2021. Kettle funds are used locally to provide a wide range of social services for those who need them most in communities nationwide.
  • Holiday cash donations to The Salvation Army in 2021 were the 2nd highest in the organization's history, thanks to the generous support of the American public.
  • The Salvation Army’s work in disaster relief began in 1900 in response to the devastating hurricane that destroyed Galveston, TX and killed more than 5,000 people.
  • The Salvation Army began dispensing food and drinks near Ground Zero less than an hour after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers.  In our nearly nine months of service there, 40,000 Salvation Army volunteers, staff and officers assisted 4.5 million people with meals, pastoral counseling and social services. 
  • About 82% of your donation to The Salvation Army goes directly to program funding to help people who need it most.
  • Peter Drucker called The Salvation Army “by far the most effective organization in the U.S.,” in Forbes magazine.
  • Joan Kroc, widow of McDonalds founder Ray Kroc, made the largest individual charitable contribution in history to The Salvation Army in 2003.  Her $1.5 billion gift was given to the Army for the exclusive purpose of building recreational and community centers in under-served neighborhoods.
  • The Salvation Army was at the frontlines in World Wars I and II, offering comfort and pastoral guidance. 
  • The Salvation Army is often credited with popularizing the doughnut in the United States. During World War I, The Salvation Army served doughnuts – often cooked in battle helmets – to U.S. troops in the field; and many soldiers came back to the States hooked on the pastries.  In 1938, The Salvation Army created “National Doughnut Day,” observed the first Friday of June, to honor the female Salvation Army officers, or “Doughnut Lassies,” who served the troops during the War.
  • The Salvation Army led in the formation of the USO – United Services Organization.  The USO operates service units, which serve members of the armed forces abroad.
  • The first Salvation Army band was formed in 1882 by accident.  Charles Frye and his sons offered their services as bodyguards for Salvation Army street preachers.  They began playing music on their brass instruments to give them something to do while they protected the officers, and soon after quit their family business to lead the Army’s music department.
  • Known for its brass band music, The Salvation Army has approximately 2,500 brass bands worldwide.
  • Since the 1920s, a Salvation Army brass band from Southern California has marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
  • In 1891, The Salvation Army opened its own match factory in Old Ford, East London.  Only using harmless red phosphorus, the workers were soon producing six million boxes a year.  A competitor paid its workers just over two pence (two British pennies) a gross, while The Salvation Army paid their employees twice that amount.
  • Slum Sisters - Around the turn of the 20th century, Salvation Army church members known as "slum sisters" lived in the worst areas of cities like London and New York in order to be as useful as possible to their neighbors. They would visit homes to take care of children, nurse the sick, cook meals and do housework. They'd also visit bars, brothels and drug houses for the purpose of bringing the light of God into dark places. They weren't radicals; just Christians doing what they believed was their duty.
  • The phrase “on the wagon” was coined by men and women receiving the services of The Salvation Army.  Former National Commander Evangeline Booth – founder William Booth’s daughter – drove a hay wagon through the streets of New York to encourage alcoholics on board for a ride back to The Salvation Army.  Hence, alcoholics in recovery were said to be “on the wagon.”
  • The Salvation Army church in the heart of Broadway in New York City (on West 47th Street) operates Theater 315, a 99-seat showcase theater that stages uplifting family entertainment.
  • Movie actors Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Mae West, and Joan Crawford have all appeared in movies with Army characters.
  • “Strawberry Fields Forever” in the Beatles 1966 song by that name, is John Lennon’s nostalgic reference to a Salvation Army orphanage called Strawberry Field in Woolton, England.  Lennon is said to have played with childhood friends in the trees behind the orphanage when he was a boy.  The facility closed in 2005 but reopened in late 2019.
  • Silver Bells - Songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evans worked for Paramount Pictures and were asked to come up with a Christmas song for the film "The Lemon-Drop Kid" starring Bob Hope. Using The Salvation Army bell ringers for inspiration, they wrote a song called "Tinkle Bells." When Livingston went home and told his wife she had to fill him in on an alternate meaning of the word tinkle. They changed the name to "Silver Bells" and it's been a Christmas favorite ever since.
  • Founders Catherine and William Booth and their family were strict vegetarians. The Booth family believed that eating a plant-based diet is conducive to better health and a means of avoiding animal cruelty.