PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Salvation Army kicked off its annual holiday Red Kettle Campaign Wednesday during a special event at The Shops at Liberty Place.

“This is the beginning of The Salvation Army’s most important fundraiser of the year, most visible time of the year,” said Greater Philadelphia Salvation Army Director of Operation Major A. Phillip Fierera.

“Salvation Army Kettle Units are run by the local units,” he said. “So the money that’s raised in the kettle goes right into the neighborhood where the money is raised.”

(credit: Hadas Kuznits)

Fierera says money collected helps fund programs for people in need throughout the year.

“After school programs, educational programs, character building programs, senior citizens programs,” he explained. “We have homeless residences, senior citizens residences, we have an anti-human trafficking program. The money we raise helps all of that, plus the extra things, like the Thanksgiving to go program on Thanksgiving Day and all of the Christmas toys that we distribute.”

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With the winter season around the corner, Fierera points out for many people, this is a very expensive time of year.

“Often people with limited resources want to do the special things that they can’t really afford to do,” he said. “We hope that we’re helping them to do the special things.”

“It’s a well-known fact that the city of Philadelphia has one of the highest poverty rates in the country,” he said. “We’re just trying to make a dent in that as best as we can.”