Salvation Army Red Kettle Bell Campaign Underway

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November 28, 2018
Daily News-Record  11/28/18
HARRISONBURG — Roger Austin stood outside the Walmart on John Wayland Highway in the cold for two hours Monday afternoon, ringing his bell and smiling as people dropped cash into the red kettle.
For eight years, Austin, a resident of Harrisonburg, has been volunteering for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign, the nonprofit's signature holiday season fundraiser that brings in close to $200,000 annually. Money raised during the campaign, the nonprofit organization's largest, supports Salvation Army programs throughout the year.
Each year, Austin stands outside for hours, often more than once a week, raising money for those in need.
“I know there are so many people out there that need this help, and this is the least I can do,” he said. “Even though the economy is growing, there’s still a constant need in the community.”
Austin said he knows many people who have benefited from the donations given over the years, and hearing the stories of those helped by the campaign that he doesn’t know is just as rewarding.
This year, the Harrisonburg Salvation Army Corps seeks to raise $185,000 during the Red Kettle Campaign, but the organization is running short on volunteers to ring the bells.
“I think a big reason why we’re so low on volunteers this year is because we didn’t have our kickoff event,” said Ashley Gordon-Becker, the Harrisonburg Corps' director of development. “Not having that initial publicity really hindered things.”
The nonprofit planned to kick off the campaign with an event on Nov. 13, but the Valley’s first winter storm led to its cancellation.
Gordon-Becker said the area doesn’t normally see a mixture of cold rain and ice until after the holidays. Because of that, she said, the Salvation Army is in “desperate need” of volunteers and are falling behind its goal.
“This campaign is so important and in order to raise our anticipated amount, we need volunteers,” Gordon-Becker said.
This year, the local corps is collecting donations at 13 stores around the area, including at Walmart locations, Red Front Supermarket and at the Shenandoah Heritage Market.
The campaign runs until Dec. 24.
Money raised during the campaign goes beyond providing hot meals to the homeless during the holidays. It also covers year-round needs such as the food pantry, a 64-bed emergency shelter and youth character building programs.
Last year, the organization raised $191,000. Gordon- Becker said this year’s goal is more reasonable because the amount raised in 2017 was in part because of some last-minute business donations.
Skyline Roofing and Stone Hill Construction matched the amount collected in the red kettles during the weekend before Christmas last year. That contribution added up to $8,000, which put the organization over its $190,000 goal.
Although this marks the 93th Red Kettle Campaign, this year will be just the second year the Salvation Army has offered kettle sponsoring and kettle matching.
In 2017, six businesses participated as sponsors, who have their company name and logo displayed at a specific kettle location during the chosen sponsored day. A weekday sponsorship costs $200 and Saturdays are $300.
To volunteer, call 383-4510 or email