Letter From a Donor: "I Will Never Pass a Red Kettle Without Putting Something In"

Sep 15, 2020

Last month, The Salvation Army received a touching letter from a donor in Cheboygan along with his donation. He expressed his thanks for how The Salvation Army helped his family when he was a boy and connected his history with The Salvation Army to why he continues to give today. He also wanted his letter shared with the public to inspire giving and volunteering this Christmas season, and we are very honored to have the ability to do so. The following is the letter in full.


My name is Brian Scollon. I hope you take the time to read what I am about to write. It will better help in understanding why I sent this gift and continue to in the future. 

My mom moved my family to Cheboygan on November 11, 1980, from the slums of inner city Detroit. I was the youngest of five children, being 10 years old at the time. My mom was unable to maintain a job due to her health and could only work from time to time, taking small jobs. She was an incredible mom and did everything she possibly could to raise her children. Her name was Grace Scollon. Her friends called her Rusty.

My father was absent.

There were many Thanksgivings and Christmases where we did not have the means to have a holiday dinner, and there were few gifts under the tree. I remember the first Thanksgiving The Salvation Army delivered a turkey and several sides including potatoes, green beans, corn, cranberry sauce, stuffing, rolls, etc. To think about that even to this day brings tears to my eyes and a thankfulness I cannot explain. That Christmas was the same. The Salvation Army brought a Christmas meal, candles, and gifts: all things that we would have otherwise not had.

My mom taught us a lot about family and helping others when we could. Financially, we were never able, but we did through our words and actions. As I said, she was an incredible mom and she gave us unconditional love, taught us to respect others, to respect and appreciate everything you have and what those around you have, cleanliness, and an incredible work ethic in all that you do. I can truly go on and on about her, but this letter is supposed to be about your organization!

The Salvation Army also taught me about helping others through action, as they did when they helped my family all those years ago. Because of that lesson, I will NEVER pass a red kettle without putting something in, and it angers me when I hear about retailers who do not allow The Salvation Army to post a kettle at their entrances during the holidays. I now also go through my local Salvation Army branches and my church to try and assist families during Thanksgiving and Christmas who are in need as my family was growing up. My favorite thing to do is deliver presents and food to families anonymously dressed as Santa, see the look in the parents' eyes, and of course watch the reactions of the children. That is the selfish side of me I guess. The sheer joy is AMAZING!

Though I do these things with heartfelt conviction, it has just recently been pressed upon my heart, my spirit that I need to reach out to you and help those in the very place where it all started. Enclosed you will find a check to start that process. I apologize it has taken me this long to acknowledge the Cheboygan branch of The Salvation Army in what it has done for me, my family, and the lessons I have learned from your example.

It is with sincerest heart and thankfulness that I send this,

Brian K Scollon


If you would like to join Brian and help us Rescue Christmas, you can create a virtual red kettle or volunteer as a bell ringer.

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