Red Kettles to Launch with Carrie Underwood

With its bells already ringing across the nation, the Salvation Army will officially kick off the 2006 Red Kettle fundraising campaign this Thanksgiving Day.

At the Dallas Cowboys' halftime show on Thursday, American Idol winner and breakthrough Country artist Carrie Underwood will be launching the 10th anniversary of the Salvation Army’s familiar red kettles.

"I am so glad to have the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving in Dallas this year," said Underwood, according to the Salvation Army. "My family and I have been spectators several times in the past, and now I am thrilled to be performing at halftime this year! I look forward to teaming up with The Salvation Army and the Dallas Cowboys for a great day."

Underwood recently nabbed the 2006 Country Music Association award for Female Vocalist of the Year, running against such superstars as Faith Hill and Sara Evans. Her debut album, Some Hearts, went quadruple-platinum with three No. 1 country singles.

The Salvation Army continues its annual tradition of red kettles with an official national launch at the Cowboys' Thanksgiving game.

"Our halftime celebration at Texas Stadium has become a very unique and visible part of the family holiday tradition that is Thanksgiving in America," said Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ owner and general manager. “There's not a better way to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Red Kettle Kickoff than having all of us who support the special work of The Salvation Army know that our collective efforts during the past decade will result in the one billionth dollar dropped in a kettle some place in America this Christmas season.”

In the past decade, nearly $900 million has been raised, helping more than 335 million people in communities nationwide. Jones and Underwood will be among the first to make donations to the red kettles.

“We continually see increased demand for our services and the annual Red Kettle Campaign is a major reason why we are able to provide assistance to those in need in over 5,000 communities nationwide,” said Commissioner Israel L. Gaither, National Commander of The Salvation Army. “We have been privileged over the years to have The Dallas Cowboys allow us this tremendous national forum, and we are pleased that Carrie Underwood has agreed to help us kick off the 2006 campaign.”

Red kettles will be at more than 3,900 Wal-Mart stores, Sam's Clubs and Neighborhood Markets across the country this holiday season. Wal-Mart and Sam's Club associates will also participate in a "Bells Ringing Across America" event on Nov. 28 when the associates will staff the red kettles at every store and club nationwide.

Lee Scott, chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., will lead the kickoff of the special celebration with a $1 million donation from the Wal-Mart and Sam's Club Foundation. An additional $250,000 will also be donated through their online red kettle campaign. Virtual red kettles drew an outstanding response last year.

Meanwhile, Target Corp. is also donating $1 million to the Army's red kettles, but will not allow the bell-ringers to fundraise in front of its stores.

This will be the third year that Target has banned the bell-ringers from its stores. A Salvation Army ornament, however, is hitting Target shelves with profits donated to the Christian group.

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