Sunday, December 21, 2014

Organizer: Holiday giving still rings despite lower kettle total

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 12/27/2013

The spirit of giving was down, but certainly not out this holiday season in Franklin County.

Money raised through the Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign wasn’t as much as years past, Adam Lynch said Friday, but people still gave — which is the reason for the season.

The spirit of giving was down, but certainly not out this holiday season in Franklin County.

Money raised through the Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign wasn’t as much as years past, Adam Lynch said Friday, but people still gave — which is the reason for the season.

“It was definitely not one of the better years,” Lynch, Salvation Army kettle coordinator, said. “It was considerably less than what we’ve done in some years. We’ve had several years where we [raised] over $20,000 and one year we did $25,000.”

The full amount is still being counted, Lynch said, but the total from the kettles at Walmart Supercenter and Country Mart in Ottawa was $11,639.25. Money raised from counter kettles, which sit on the counters at some local stores and restaurants, typically brings in an additional $800 to $1,200, he added.

“People gave really well when we were out there,” he said. “We were hurt by a short bell ringing season compared to most years.”

The bell ringing campaign was cut about a week short this year because of the late Thanksgiving holiday, Lynch said. Bell ringers aren’t allowed to start ringing until Black Friday, he added.

“We lost a week because Thanksgiving was late, so that was a significant contributing factor,” he said. “That probably meant close to $3,500 that we normally would receive that we didn’t because we didn’t have that week.”

Colder-than-usual temperatures also didn’t help the kettle campaign, Lynch said. Many bell ringers were unable to ring during their scheduled times because of frigid conditions.

“We lost some bell ringers due to single digit [temperatures],” he said. “That happens every year, so I can’t say that’s much different than any bell ringing season, but that’s always a factor.”

Getting volunteers might be the most difficult part about the kettle campaign, Lynch said, but this year many groups and organizations came out to try their hands at bell ringing.

“We had a really nice volunteer base that came out,” he said. “School groups, some National Honor Society groups and many other church groups that came out. We also had Brownies, Boy Scouts and individuals as well as families. We had a really nice turnout from bell ringers this year, but we can never have enough. As good as it is, you need more, but we’re thankful for the ones we have.”

The Salvation Army prides itself on giving back the most funds to the community members in which the funds were raised, Lynch said.

“The Salvation Army gives back the highest percentage of money raised than any other non-profit organization,” he said. “[Funds] will help people with utility assistance — that’s a significant one — but it goes for all sorts of things.”

Those needing utility assistance or assistance of any other kind from the Salvation Army can contact the East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corp., he said.

“Sometimes [funds raised] goes to help people needing more money for groceries or to help make a rent payment and send local kids to camp this summer that maybe can’t afford to go to camp,” he said. “Or for emergency assistance depending on what emergency-type situations could come for a family in the county.”

Despite the lower campaign total, Lynch said, this year’s giving still was heart-warming.

“I’m thankful and appreciative to the community, Walmart, Country Mart and all businesses that allowed kettles to be placed in their stores for the community,” he said. “The people have proven year after year their willingness to give and support others through financial resources, and we really appreciate the spirit of giving in Franklin County.”

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