The late Thanksgiving holiday has shortened the Salvation Army’s kettle campaign, Adam Lynch said.
Thanksgiving falls on the last Thursday in November, and this year’s end-of-the-month holiday could mean less money raised by the red kettle collections, Lynch, Salvation Army kettle coordinator, said.
“This year we’re losing a solid week just because Thanksgiving came so late,” he said. “There’s been campaigns where we’ve had seven weeks, and this year we have less than four. We’re going to have to make every day, every hour count.”
The Salvation Army in Franklin County posts bell ringers at Walmart, 2101 S. Princeton St., Ottawa, and Country Mart, 2138 S. Princeton Circle Drive, Ottawa, Lynch said, but a policy passed last year by Walmart’s corporate office has shortened the campaign even more.
“Walmart asked from a corporate level that the Salvation Army not start ringing until the Friday after Thanksgiving,” he said. “We’re honoring their request to do that, but we lost a week there as well.”
The shorter campaign time and colder-than-usual weather means the Salvation Army needs as many volunteers as it can get, Lynch said.
“Even though the people are reaching out [to help], I need more people to reach out because we need to raise all we can to help people here locally over the next 3 1/2 weeks,” Lynch said. “We were going to start ringing at Country Mart last Friday and Saturday, but it’s been so cold. I’m disappointed with what Mother Nature is going to be doing with this weekend and all next week’s weather. [Volunteers] are going to have to bundle up and dress warm.”
The Salvation Army is one of the few nonprofit organizations that keeps the money raised through the kettle campaign local to help those in need, he said.
“A minimum of 88 percent of every dollar that’s put in the kettle stays here in Franklin County,” Lynch said. “[The money] goes for all sorts of things like emergency assistance, to help people with different financial needs whether they’re needing to have utility assistance, food assistance, groceries or maybe even fuel assistance to get to work or a job interview.”
Though more people are stepping up to try their hand at bell ringing, Lynch said, young volunteers tend to generate more donations and the Salvation Army hopes to find more of them to pitch in.
“One of the focuses that the Salvation Army has had is to get young people started ringing at the kettles because it is addicting, and it’s a good addiction,” he said. “The best hours that we have is when there’s young people ringing. Shoppers respond well to that. Whether it’s a family with young children or young people ringing and having fun around the kettle. The giving during those times just really shoots up.”
By recruiting more youngsters to volunteer as bell ringers, not only does the Salvation Army raise more money, it starts a new tradition, Lynch said.
“It allows young people to see not only the willingness and generosity of people to give, but they can hear, read and see all the positive things the Salvation Army is able to do to help and they’re a part of that,” he said. “It’s a hope that when they get older and become young adults and get married and have kids that the tradition will continue because it started when they were young.”
The kettle campaign officially starts Black Friday — one of the busiest days for the kettle campaign, Lynch said — and goes through Dec. 24, Christmas Eve. Anyone wanting to sign up to volunteer may contact Lynch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (913) 744-8249.