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Bell ringers are back as Salvation Army launches its 2013 Red Kettle campaign

Friday, November 15, 2013 - 12:01 am

With Christmas less than two months away the Salvation Army opened its Red Kettle campaign Thursday afternoon.

In 2012 the campaign fell short of the $325,000 goal, raising $251,911. Maj. Harold Poff said the main reason the agency didn't reach the goal was due to changes in scheduling that didn't permit volunteers to start ringing at locations as early as they had in previous years. This year they will have 32 locations at Kroger, Walgreen's, and Hobby Lobby available starting Friday, and Big Lots locations starting Nov. 22, with another 12 locations opening after Thanksgiving. Friday is a week earlier than ringers were out last year, but a week later than two years ago. The kettles will be located primarily around Fort Wayne and the surrounding Allen County area.

Their expectations are lower this year with a goal of $265,000, a $14,000 increase over 2012 for the Red Kettle campaign. The Red Kettle, Angel Tree and associated seasonal programs make up 50 percent of the Salvation Army's annual budget. The total goal for all the campaigns this year is $601,000. Poff said he is hoping the community will continue to support the agency through these campaigns.

“Families that we have already committed to provide assistance to this year are 729 families with 1,933 children - 2,924 persons, all whom are residents of Allen County, or Fort Wayne,” Poff said.

Last year they had a volunteer ring a bell for 30 hours straight. They would like to repeat this feat, if they can find someone willing to try and break that record. They are looking for a volunteer. Dec. 6 is the fourth annual Realtor Ring Day, which is a collaboration with local Realtors and Salvation Armies across the country.

“We ask the community to help us as far as possible in donating,” Poff said.

For locations too small for a bell ringer they will have counter kettles at 16 businesses, including all Belmont Liquor stores, all Jamison Meats stores, all Culver's Restaurants, and Connolly's Do It Best stores on West State Boulevard and Dupont Road.

Last Christmas the Salvation Army assisted 830 families through the Angel Tree program - 2,322 children were provided with new clothes; 139 teens received gift cards through the Card A Teen program; and 259 families were adopted through the Adopt a Family program. The Salvation Army served 3,297 people through Christmas programs in 2012.

In 2012 the Salvation Army gave financial assistance to 2,733 families in need of rent or mortgage to stay in their home, as well as people who need utility assistance and feed people through their food pantry. They helped 1,127 children go back to school with 27,257 new school supplies in August through its Tools for School program.