Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign surpasses goal by $10,000

HELPING HANDS: A total of 780 volunteers donated 1,560 hours ringing bells for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign, which collected more than $110,000. (Pioneer file photo)

HELPING HANDS: A total of 780 volunteers donated 1,560 hours ringing bells for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, which collected more than $110,000. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — Two weeks ago, local Salvation Army officials were biting their nails over a projected $20,000 shortfall to the annual Red Kettle Campaign — and this week, they’re rejoicing in exceeding their goal by $10,000.

Three key factors combined to help the campaign raise a total of $110,194.06, well over their $100,000 goal.

Describing the final days nearing the end of the yearly bell-ringing donation campaign as “a little touch and go,” Development Director Chris Vallette cited two large anonymous donations, generosity from area businesses and a groundswell of support from the community as the impetus for reaching the goal.

REALTOR RING DAY: Jerry Garner, of Century 21 Forward Realty, was one of several area realtors who rang bells for the Salvation Army as part of Realtor Ring Day. Realtors covered bell-ringing shifts at eight locations throughout the Salvation Army's service area on Dec. 2. (Pioneer file photo)

REALTOR RING DAY: Jerry Garner, of Century 21 Forward Realty, was one of several area realtors who rang bells for the Salvation Army as part of Realtor Ring Day. Realtors covered bell-ringing shifts at eight locations throughout the Salvation Army’s service area on Dec. 2. (Pioneer file photo)

Two anonymous donors each gave $5,000 in the final week of the campaign, which ran from Nov. 16 through Dec. 24. Area businesses that had previously pledged to match kettle donations on particular days or at particular locations also increased their gift amount, with Isabella Bank and Johnson’s Automotive Repair giving an extra $1,000 each and Taylor Insurance in Evart giving an additional $500. And finally, the many people who donated at the kettles gave a little something extra.

“In our final three days of kettles, we had people step in and volunteer to ring the bells, and the people who gave to the kettles seemed to give a little extra,” Vallette said. “Those last three days were three of our better days this season.

“Those three things combined put us up and over — it was very unexpected.”

Money from the Red Kettle Campaign is used throughout the year to help fund various programs at the Salvation Army, including rent and utility assistance, summer camps, a community center for local youth, the Fresh Start baby pantry, emergency disaster services, the Angel Tree program to provide gifts to children at Christmas and the Pathway of Hope long-term family assistance program.

“It is amazing to see how many people sign up to ring each year,” said Lt. Chris Karlin, of the Big Rapids office, in a press release. “We continue to have more volunteers every year.”

In all, 780 volunteers gave 1,560 hours of their time to ring bells at the red kettle locations. One particular volunteer, Donnie Sue Johnson, helped organize others for the cause.

CAMPAIGN KICKOFF: Local Salvation Army officials were joined by Brutus the Bulldog on ice for a photo opportunity during the Ferris State University "Kettle Call" hockey game Nov. 18. (Courtesy photo)

CAMPAIGN KICKOFF: Local Salvation Army officials were joined by Brutus the Bulldog on ice for a photo opportunity during the Ferris State University “Kettle Call” hockey game Nov. 18. (Courtesy photo)

“She found out we had to pay people to ring bells, and she found a volunteer for every single bell-ringing shift at Foster’s Supermarket in Evart,” Vallette said. “She did that last year, too, and this year she did it even better. It’s a really cool thing.

“Foster’s raised over $20,000 alone in kettle donations and matches for those kettles. That’s huge — for a community like Evart, where the entire school is considered a Title 1 school, which shows there’s poverty in the area, to raise $20,000 is huge.”

To have community support of this magnitude is “humbling” for Vallette.

“When we put out the call for help, when we were sitting at about $80,000, we were checking things out and saying, ‘Wow, this could be the year we don’t make goal.’ It was a little touch and go there,” he said. “Right now, we’re not looking at cutting any programs, barring anything that happens in the future. We’re excited to not have to worry about that. We can focus on doing good works.

“I just want to say to the people who gave, they’re amazing. What we’ve seen over the last five years, with the community consistently recognizing the importance of the programs we offer and stepping up to make sure those programs are operational is humbling.”

avatar

Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

Leave a Reply