By KATHLEEN SHAW
Daily News-Record 12/16/20
Each holiday season, Salvation Army chapters worldwide look to the red kettle campaign as a major fundraiser, but the pandemic is stirring concerns for a large projected donation shortfall.
With nearly $65,000 raised of its $175,000 goal and the campaign’s end looming eight days away, the Harrisonburg Salvation Army’s Christmas effort is falling behind.
Compared to this time last year, the local branch’s red kettle campaign is short $40,446.
Director of Development Ashley Gordon- Becker said volunteers usually ring bells for donations six days a week, but the lack of volunteers sliced the ringing days in half and the online fundraising platform has seen little success.
“We do tend to get more donations the last week or so, but we’re not even halfway to our goal, and this is the money we use to support all our programs throughout the year,” she said.
Funds for the bell ringing fundraiser go to programs such as the emergency shelter, food pantry and social service programs. The red kettle campaign kicked off Nov. 12 at Valley Mall and ends on Christmas Eve.
During this season of giving, it’s important for all of us to join together in supporting the Salvation Army and other organizations providing essential, life-sustaining services to those most in need.
“That’s the money that goes to support those programs, and our shelter is a big one because it costs quite a bit to keep a shelter open 365 days a year,” Gordon- Becker said.
As of Tuesday, the online kettle collection has raised $885 of its $50,000 goal.
Kath Wissinger volunteers each year to solicit donations by playing classic Christmas carols on handbells. She said dedicating time to the red kettle campaign is a beloved tradition because she respects the Salvation Army’s commitment to the community.
“It’s one of the best philanthropic organizations out there because I know almost everything you give goes to those in need. There’s very little overhead,” Wissinger said. “You know when you give to the Salvation Army, the money is going directly to people in need.”
The Salvation Army has a separate campaign for Christmas that distributes profits between the angel trees, red kettle campaign and food pantry. The Harrisonburg Salvation Army received a $10,000 grant from the Columbia Gas/ NiSource Charitable Foundation to support the Salvation Army Christmas Campaign.
“During this season of giving, it’s important for all of us to join together in supporting the Salvation Army and other organizations providing essential, life- sustaining services to those most in need,” Brent Archer, Columbia Gas of Virginia president and chief operating officer, said in a press release.
Kettles will be stationed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday leading up to Christmas outside of the ABC store next to Martin’s Food, inside Valley Mall at the Belk Court and J. C. Penney Court, Kroger, Walmart Burgess Road Market Door, Dayton Market, Shenandoah Heritage Market, Bridgewater Foods, Walmart on Va. 42 Market Door and Food Lion in Timberville.
To find your local Salvation Army’s virtual red kettle or register to ring the bell, go to registertoring.com and enter your ZIP code. Angel tree distribution will be on Friday at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds from 8:0 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.