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The Salvation Army's famous red kettles are getting a makeover in Milwaukee

When I look back at my childhood, I remember tugging on my mom’s coat for a dollar bill. Not for candy or for hot chocolate, but for me to put into the bright red Salvation Army kettle I’d seen so many times while growing up. The famous red kettle goes back to the 1980s, but this year in Milwaukee, 10 kettles are getting a new look courtesy of 10 Milwaukee artists – one of them is Natalie Doherty.

Listen to the audio story below to learn more about The Art of the Red Kettle and how Doherty transformed her kettle for the season of generosity.

Natalie Doherty poses with her red kettle, photo by Doherty
Over the summer, the Salvation Army hosted a call for red kettle designs from Milwaukee artists. People pitched their design ideas, and 10 ideas were selected by the organization. Doherty’s design was one of those chosen.

Doherty specializes in lettering and modern calligraphy. She works full-time as a teacher in Hales Corner and runs her business Lettering by Natalie on the side. Although her love for calligraphy has only recently been discovered, Doherty’s lettering work is in high demand, which inspired her to start her calligraphy business.

Her calligraphy work is what defined her red kettle design. Doherty decided to keep her kettle the familiar bright red color, but included warm messages on and around the kettle for donors to see when they give.

“I wanted when someone sees it to see the red kettle,” said Doherty. On the front, the kettle reads “light of the world,” and above, it reads, “kindness can change the world.” Doherty says she wanted donors to see the good they are doing right after they put a dollar bill or two into the kettle.

The kettles will be on display at the Milwaukee Public Market from November 26 through December 30. They will also be at the Chriskindl Market at the Fiserv Forum on December 7. To donate to the kettles online, visit the Salvation Army websitehere.