This post is brought to you in partnership with The Salvation Army. All opinions are our own. 

You might know The Salvation Army best by its red kettles and the friendly bell ringers  outside grocery and other stores during the holidays. But do you know all the good The Salvation Army does for our and other communities?

When you drop your money in the bucket or donate online, you are supporting an important organization that has been around since 1865.

In the more than 150 years since then, the Salvation Army has helped over 25 million Americans – AND they invented National Doughnut Day! Here are a few other things you might not know about the Salvation Army.

Its local beginnings started on South Church Street.

The Salvation Army has been a presence in Charlotte for over 112 years. Its humble beginnings include two sisters who rented a small upstairs building on South Church Street in 1904 – starting the local chapter here in Charlotte. Founding members went on to become Salvation Army officers, ministers and committed volunteers who carried out local programs.

It created first-ever National Doughnut Day in 1938.

Every time you sink your teeth into a soft, sweet doughnut, remember to give props to The Salvation Army! The organization is often credited with popularizing the doughnut in the United States. The doughy treats were often cooked in battle helmets and enjoyed by U.S. troops during World War I. In 1938, The Salvation Army created National Doughnut Day to honor female Salvation Army officers (known as “doughnut lassies” at the time) who served troops during the war.

Yeah, it goes waaaaaaay back.

Does it seem like The Salvation Army has been around forever? That’s because it basically has! In 2005, national consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton selected The Salvation Army (along with the Rolling Stones, Oxford University and the Olympic Games) as one of the world’s top 10 enduring institutions. It’s pretty nice to be in such great company.

Okay, but what’s in that red kettle?

Your favorite bell ringer is one of 25,000 volunteers who braves the elements (and the holiday craziness) to help raise money for local community programs. Among coins and bills, ringers have found “mystery donations” ranging from gold coins to diamonds to large cash donations to wedding rings in their red kettles. What can you give this year?

Speaking of bell ringing…

The Salvation Army didn’t incorporate bell ringing until 1900, when a young cadet named Amelia from New York bought a 10-cent bell to ring as she asked people for donations. Judging by today’s popularity, it was a HUGE success in attracting attention and donations from people like you and me. Now all cadets have bells, and that sound has become as much a part of the season as cookies and stockings.

Put giving to The Salvation Army on your holiday to-do list. 

Want to learn more about The Salvation Army? Click here for more information