Every year, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, a time to give thanks for all their blessings. We gather to remember what's most important in our lives -- family, friends, food, and of course, football! In my home, Thanksgiving and football go hand in hand, and this Thanksgiving, the Dallas Cowboys will take the field -- as they have since 1966 -- in the nationally televised holiday game that will be enjoyed by families across the country as part of one of this season's most American traditions.
It is this historic holiday game that inspired me to create a new tradition to kick off the "season of giving" by building awareness for one of this country's oldest traditions, The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign, during halftime of our Thanksgiving Day game. My mother and father, Gene and Jerry Jones, recognized that The Salvation Army's mission could be amplified through our Dallas Cowboys partnership. We are thrilled to help tell the story of The Salvation Army's mission with the help of CBS during our nationally televised halftime show, now in its 17th year!
Although the Red Kettle Campaign is over a hundred years old, the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving halftime show is a fairly new American tradition. With the added visibility of a national TV audience, the campaign has raised more than $1.75 billion for The Salvation Army since the inaugural show in 1997. Last year alone, the Red Kettle Campaign collected $148.7 million, providing meals and shelter for families in need, Christmas toys for millions of children, and countless other social services.
We're thrilled to have Selena Gomez as our 2013 National Red Kettle Kickoff Artist. She's a remarkable role model for our youth, and I know she'll inspire the next generation to get involved by showing them that every little bit helps. Through the Red Kettle Kickoff, we've created a new holiday season tradition that reminds us of the importance of giving back and helping those in need in our communities any way we can.
The Red Kettles are one of the most iconic sights and sounds of the holiday season. They remind us of the importance of "doing the most good" and that your change can help change lives. The tradition began in 1891 with Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee's hope to provide a free Christmas dinner to the homeless in San Francisco. He placed a pot at a ferry landing, and soon had enough money to feed the needy at Christmas. His idea spread nationwide, and today in the U.S., The Salvation Army helps more than 4.5 million people during Thanksgiving and Christmas time and over 30 million people every year. That's one person every second!
Whether it's the tradition of the Cowboys playing football on Thanksgiving, Red Kettles in front of stores during the holidays, or a Thanksgiving Day halftime show, it's important for us all to both create new traditions with our loved ones and keep the old ones alive.
This holiday season, The Salvation Army offers numerous ways for you to help them help others: by hosting your own online Red Kettle, texting the word KETTLE to 80888 and replying YES to make a $10 contribution, volunteering at your local Salvation Army to ring a Red Kettle bell this holiday season, adopting a Salvation Army Christmas Angel, and of course, by putting your change in The Salvation Army Red Kettles. Join us in helping The Salvation Army "Do the Most Good."
From my family to yours, I wish you and your family a safe and blessed Thanksgiving.