Solomon started serving in 1989 filling only 36 hours at one stand with 27 Lodge members and 4 family members. We were introduced into the Salvation Army Christmas Kettles by PM Albert J. Miller, who was not only our Charter Senior Warden, but the Delaware Coordinator for the Salvation Army, who assigned then Senior Steward Toland S. Van Stan, Jr. to coordinate for the Lodge.
Needless to say, Solomon was not among the top earners for the Salvation Army for several years. More Volunteers signed up over the following years, taking more hours. In 1993, Solomon earned First Place in participating organizations for both hours served and income received filling 200 hours with 77 Volunteers consisting of Lodge Members, their family members and friends. More Volunteers joined, consisting mainly of Lodge members, their Families and Friends, but including members from other Lodges, Bethel #9 of Job’s Daughters, 2 DeMolay Chapters, 2 Boy Scout Troops, a Girl Scout Troop, three 4-H Groups and even a local Church.
From 1994 through 2020, more than 120 Volunteers every year have served between 450 and 600 hours at 4 locations for 12 hours every Saturday, from 5 PM to 9 PM on weeknights and 9 hours every Christmas Eve from the Saturday after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. Since 1994, donations at Stands manned by Solomon Volunteers averaged just under $20,000 every year.
The 2020 Christmas Kettles were threatened by a new problem: COVID 19. For the first time since 1994, Solomon could only fill 3 Stands. The Salvation Army set up Virtual Kettles, including one for Solomon Lodge. The Public and the Solomon Volunteers, while concerned with the health safety of all in mind, still managed to raise over $17,500 at the three Stands. Supporters of Solomon’s Kettle efforts, members who could not serve and their Friends raised over $2,900, so, even with COVID, Solomon’s Volunteers raised over $20,500.
Of course, older Members, over the years have had to give up serving, even though many have served up to ages 85 to 90 years old. New Members and their Families have always been there to fill the gaps. So far, two generations of Solomon Masons have participated, and we are extending into a third. At Solomon, we see this as proof that Charity does extend into the boundless realms of Eternity, and Charity is a basic tenet of Masonic Teachings.
Over the 32 years of service that Solomon Lodge has served on the Kettles, more than 850 volunteers have served over 19,000 hours at 12,600 one hour Stands and earned just under $550,000 for the good works of the Salvation Army.