Red kettles

IF, as you scurry about on your last-minute Christmas errands, you pass by one of the Salvation Army's famous red kettles without digging into pocket or purse for change to toss in, don't worry about it. But when you get home, do take a minute to write out a check for these worthy soldiers on the front lines of human misery.

The kettles are sometimes staffed nowadays by homeless people paid by the Salvation Army, rather than the usual uniformed Army officers. The kettles have done not badly this Christmas season. But larger donations, including gifts of securities, are down this season, as a result of the stock market crash and other indicators of uncertainty in the upper financial echelons.

The need for what the Salvation Army provides for those who slip through the cracks, however, is notably not down. Whatever the strengths of the overall economy, still too many people must choose between food and shelter, still too many hold jobs and yet have no suitable housing.

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