BELMONT COUNTY, OHIO (WTRF) – The Belmont County Salvation Army kicked off their annual Christmas kettle campaign today at the Ohio Valley Mall.

With holiday music provided by area high school students, they marked the ceremonial start to the season of contributions that will help hundreds of families to have a happy holiday.

Salvation Army volunteers will wrap your gifts for you at the mall. You can choose a child’s name and wish list off the Angel Tree. Bells will be ringing, and the kettles will welcome every dollar you can donate.

It all started 100 years ago, when the Salvation Army ran a soup kitchen in San Francisco, and ran out of money to buy the food.

“So a guy brought a tripod out and hooked a kettle to it and started having an old bell ringing it and people came and they put money in to help feed the people in that soup kitchen. And so that tradition continues throughout the years, over 100 years later, we’re still doing it and we’re still providing services within our communities.”

Major Louis Patrick, Belmont County Salvation Army

“The people who ring the bells at the kettles are also vital to the Salvation Army. It would be great if a church, an organization, a club, a business got a group of people together and each of them took an hour shift.”

David Demarest, Salvation Army Advisor Board Member

The Belmont County Salvation Army will provide groceries and gift cards to over 600 families and toys and clothes to more than 24-hundred children this season. Ohio Valley Mall Manager George Diab put the first donation in the kettle, as always.

The Bridgeport High School Band and the St John’s Academy chorus performed holiday music.