A Tradition of Transformation


The first official meeting of The Salvation Army in America took place in Philadelphia in 1879. Within just five years, The Salvation Army began in Massachusetts, and on September 7, 1884, The Salvation Army set up the first state headquarters at the former Federhen Hall on North Russell Street in Boston’s West End. From that day on, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was forever changed.

The First Red Kettle

Courtesy John Tlumacki, Globe StaffIn 1897, six years after the Red Kettle appeared in the U.S., The Salvation Army of Massachusetts became the first organization on the East Coast to raise money by ringing the bell at Christmas.

(Mayor Menino at Kettle Kickoff, photo courtesy John Tlumacki, Globe staff)

Officers William A. McIntyre and N.J. Lewis set up three kettles in Boston without the aid of other officers who feared “making spectacles of themselves.” Along with other locations across the nation, the first year of Boston’s Red Kettle efforts provided 150,000 Christmas dinners for those in need.

First to Arrive, Last to Leave

In February 1919, The Salvation Army of Massachusetts established canteens and huts in Alaska to care for American soldiers guarding coalfields during World War I.

Many volunteers were sent to assist those facing the harsh Alaskan winter. This was only the beginning of the Massachusetts Army’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) team, which is recognized around the country as a fast, efficient relief service for disaster survivors and first responders alike. Today, our EDS team responds to all disasters in Massachusetts as well national emergencies like Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

First Child Care Center

Childcare since 
1923In 1923, the Children’s Learning Center (CLC) opened to welcome pre-school and school-age children whose parents work. Today, the center is still open in Dorchester and serves 60 pre-school and 40 school-age children each day. More than 5,000 families and 17,000 children have benefitted from the CLC’s programs since it welcomed its first child 96 years ago.

Every County Covered

The Salvation Army of Massachusetts takes pride in its history and its ability to reach those in need throughout the Commonwealth. In another history-making move, The Salvation Army created the Service Extension Department to bring The Salvation Army’s programs and services to more than 210 communities across the Commonwealth. Thanks to this network of volunteers, there is help available in every county in Massachusetts. Whether it is food, clothing, emergency lodging, rent/utility assistance, or any critical need, The Salvation Army is there no matter when and no matter where.

That is how The Salvation Army of Massachusetts has operated for 135 years and will continue to operate. It has been said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, but The Salvation Army knows its history and is proud to repeat it. The Salvation Army of Massachusetts will continue its tradition of leading in new and innovative ways to reach more people in need today and tomorrow.

This is the long-standing commitment to compassion, kindness, and caring for those in need that you support when you give to The Salvation Army. Your support transforms lives today just as The Salvation Army of Massachusetts has been transforming lives for 135 years.