An army of first-time ringers led to a successful Red Kettle Campaign, Adam Lynch said.

Despite an email glitch, Lynch, coordinator of Franklin County’s Red Kettle campaign, said an unprecedented number of people signed up to man the group’s iconic red kettles this year. The big effort by residents in the county led to an unofficial total of about $16,500, he said. 

It’s a rough estimate, Lynch said, because some money remains to be counted. Overall, he said, he is pleased with the campaign’s success. 

“I feel really good, very positive about how the campaign went and how it appears to have ended up,” Lynch said. “It wasn’t necessarily our biggest year... but people really came through.”

A more accurate count of the funds gathered is expected to be released soon after the first of the year, Lynch said. 

After his email account recently was hacked, Lynch said, most of his contacts were deleted, which caused him to worry about getting enough volunteers to man the kettles. But Franklin County residents responded in fine fashion, he said, with more individuals and church groups reaching out to him locally than ever before. 

“We had some individuals that rang multiple hours every week. I had one lady in particular the last three weeks of the campaign rang 20 hours a week just by herself,” he said. “They spent hours at the kettle volunteering.”

The volunteers, which also included some after-school programs and families, really came through, he said, providing much better coverage than he expected. About 50 people in all volunteered to ring the bells for a good cause, he said. 

“That was all really good, very exciting to see,” Lynch said of the unparalleled response.

The campaign, which ended on Christmas Eve, posted bell ringers at Walmart Supercenter, 2101 S. Princeton St., Ottawa, and Country Mart, 2138 S. Princeton St., Ottawa. And more than 60 red kettles sat on counters at various businesses throughout the county.   

Eighty-eight percent of the collected funds stay in Franklin County, Lynch said. They will be used for various purposes, Lynch said, such as utility assistance, cost of living expenses and helping to make a rent or mortgage payment. The funds also go to help families that are in an emergency or crisis by providing clothes or temporary shelter. 

“It’s kind of whatever an individual’s specific need is, and if nobody else is able to help them, hopefully we are able to,” Lynch said.