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Collections down for Salvation Army this year in county

By Staff | Dec 17, 2008

The Salvation Army of Lee County continues to struggle as the community shows an unprecedented demand for services this holiday season, yet what the organization is actually receiving in donations is much less than what is required to stay afloat.
Officials from The Salvation Army said Monday that they expect the local need for assistance — exacerbated by the housing crisis and crash of the financial market — to carry well into the new year. There has been a 70 percent increase in the amount of families seeking basic assistance over the last two years.
And so far this year, officials have seen less dollars being raised and even less volunteers choosing to man the red kettles.
“We need bell ringers to finish out this week and into next week,” said Jacquie Williams, spokesperson for The Salvation Army. “We have some, but they work in shifts.”
If more bell ringers are not scheduled to cover some of the busier red kettle shifts, the Army could lose out on funds that could be dispersed to those in need, she said.
Last week, for the third year in a row, a $20 Liberty Eagle gold coin was placed into one of the red kettles anonymously that read “In Memory of Mimi.”
In order to reach its 2008 fund-raising goals, the Army will have to raise more than $135,000 from now until Christmas Eve — which equates to $16,900 per day. Currently, the organization is raising approximately $13,000 per day.
Many families have also registered for the Christmas Cheer program. Already there has been a 30 percent increase in registrations for toys and Christmas dinner. Each of these donations will be handed out this week.
The Salvation Army also allows families to come to its warehouse and “shop” for Christmas toys for their children. On average, it is serving 500 families every day.
“They have a certain amount that they give them, but there are always people at the last minute. You have to take that in consideration,” said Williams. “We have families in our shelter that we have to take care of.”
According to the Salvation Army, 17,000 people received assistance from the Christmas Cheer program last year.
“We hope shoppers will continue to be generous this Christmas. We are praying they will drop an extra dollar or two in during the final days, so we can give to those who are in need this holiday season,” said Maj. Art Penhale, The Salvation Corps officer in Lee County.
To donate or assist in the Red Kettle campaign, call 278-1551.