Record amount raised during the WGN Radiothon

Dec 13, 2023

Thousands of John Williams fans and loyal listeners made the annual WGN Radiothon a huge success on Wednesday, December 13. After blowing out last year’s goal, WGN and The Salvation Army decided to increase this year’s goal to $175,000 – an amount never before reached.

John Williams brought his A-game, and from the moment the radiothon started, listeners started filling his iconic virtual Red Kettle.

When it was all said and done, the kettle was overflowing with nearly $250,000 raised – more than 40% over the goal – and an all-time record.

Major Caleb Senn, The Salvation Army Chicago Area Commander, was right by John Williams’ side the whole show, helping provide inspiration through the airwaves. “We distribute hope and help every single day,” Major Senn said. “We’re here to transform lives, through the work we do, through the message we bring, and through practical, life-giving services year-round.”

It wasn’t just the individual donors that made the day so successful. Many corporate and foundational sponsors jumped in to help fill the kettle, including The Duchossois Family Foundation, Jewel-Osco, Kimberly Clark, 160 Driving Academy, Toyota, CIBC, Lawrence’s Fish and Shrimp, The Sutton Auto Team, The Chicago Wolves, Antonovich, Wintrust, and Team Hochberg.

Back at Salvation Army headquarters, cadets from The Salvation Army College for Officer Training kept things running smoothly by answered phones and talking to listeners.

The most memorable part of the day were the guests who joined John to tell their stories about how The Salvation Army helped change and rebuild their lives. Former Notre Dame and Chicago Bears star Chris Zorich talked about how The Salvation Army Wonderland Camp in Wisconsin helped him become the man he is today and how he hopes his words can guide a whole new generation of inner-city children.

Theo Coleman described his life of addiction and crime and how The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center turned his life around. He’s now 17 years sober and an Envoy in The Salvation Army.

But the morning highlight might have been young Sadiq Tijani, a member of The Salvation Army Brass Band and a long-time participant in The Salvation Army music education program. Sadiq brought his trombone and provided some live entertainment for WGN listeners.

All the money raised during this event goes to help fund all the programs The Salvation Army operates all year, including food banks, homeless shelters, rent, mortgage and utility assistance, summer camps, after-school camps, rehabilitation services, and so much more.

You can continue to donate to John Williams’ virtual kettle at

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