It’s been a tradition since the first Soldotna/Kenai Rotary Club was chartered over 35 years ago. Bell Ringing or as the Salvation Army calls it “Standing Kettle.” In the beginning when the twin cities had only one club it was a way for members to practice service about self during the holidays while happily greeting friends and neighbors. As Rotary grew on the Peninsula and new clubs formed, a friendly bell ringing competition developed between the Soldotna, Kenai and Kenai River Clubs to see which club could raise the most funds while standing kettle. The rivalry was encouraged by the Salvation Army and a traveling bell trophy complete with bragging rights was created for the winning club each year. Like the SoHi football team Soldotna Rotary does not like giving up trophies or bragging rights so it was a very long year when Kenai defeated Soldotna a few years back says Soldotna Rotarian and First National Bank Alaska Sr. Vice President and Soldotna Branch manager Charlie Weimer, “Winning the bell trophy was sort of a club tradition until we lost it a few years back, so since then First National Bank Alaska has been stuffing the Soldotna Club Kettle and today we put in our check for $500. It’s a great time of year to help out the Salvation Army and to remember those who need help this time of year,” said Weimer.
Unlike deflating footballs, stuffing the red kettle is perfectly legal in Rotary “Kettle Wars” says Salvation Army envoy Craig Fanning, “I tell all three clubs that if they are going to make a corporate or personal donation to us that they do it during the kettle war times and it will be credited to that clubs kettle,” he said. The kettle drive is the only fund raiser the Salvation Army does each year and Fanning also encouraged folks to remember the toy drives and that they will be putting together food boxes for families again this year in addition to the services they provide year round in the community. “The Salvation Army has been doing a kettle drive now for over a hundred years now and kids learn about giving from their parents and we have generations now who have learned the spirit of a giving heart by stuffing coins in that red kettle. But this may be the only Rotary Kettle Wars as such that I know of and we appreciate it,” said Fanning.