Salvation Army sees lag in kettle donations

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 7:32 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES – With less than a week to collect donations through its red kettles, The Salvation Army Tri-City Corps on Wednesday remained tens of thousands of dollars behind its goal.

The Salvation Army this year hopes to raise $380,000 between the kettles and solicited and unsolicited mailed donations, Maj. Jon Miller said. He said the goal is slightly more than last year.

The Christmas campaign accounts for about one-third of The Salvation Army’s budget and supports various programs, including the Christmas assistance program, emergency services programming and the after-school program, Miller said.

Demand for the Salvation Army’s services continues to rise, he said. For example, he said, in the last three months the food pantry has distributed at least 800 bags of food a month, up from about 500.

“We’ve seen families that we’ve never seen before,” he said, adding new demand averages to about 20 families a week.

On Wednesday, Miller said, the Christmas campaign was about $120,000 behind what had been collected last year by this time. Kettles specifically were down by about $22,000 compared to last year, he said.

“We’re about $60,000 away from our kettle goal,” Miller said.

Multiple factors are contributing to the lagging donations.

In addition to cold weather prompting volunteers to cut their shifts short or not show up at all, Miller said, a grocery store chain stopped allowing bell ringers to begin their efforts before Thanksgiving. In past years, he said, those pre-Thanksgiving shifts have raised about $15,000.

Donors also are asking The Salvation Army to direct their money toward areas recently affected by natural disasters, Miller said, naming the tornado in downstate Washington and the typhoon in the Philippines as examples.

“We stay true to what our donors’ intent is and forward the resources on,” Miller said.

The Colonial Cafe & Ice Cream Match Day was a bright spot in the Christmas campaign, Miller said. Held last Saturday, it raised about $35,980 before Colonial Cafe’s contribution, he said, estimating that number will likely be near $10,000.

Bell ringers will man the kettles through Christmas Eve, Miller said. Volunteers can sign up for a shift by calling 630-377-2769 or visiting www.satricity.org.

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