Red Kettle Campaign just misses goal

Bruin Webster of Boy Scout Troop 354 plays a saxophone outside Walmart as part of the Red Kettle Campaign.

Another Red Kettle Campaign wrapped up for the Salvation Army of Loudon County.

For nearly a month, 120 volunteers rang bells for several days a week leading up to Christmas in hopes of collecting donations to help those in need in the county. Total donations were $19,805.68, which just missed the $20,000 goal.

“We have a lot of clubs, Rotaries, Kiwanis, senior centers, Boy Scouts, many groups in the community that set up multiple people in their group that would come for a day,” Karisa Bitner, chairwoman of the local service unit, said. “They’d take different time slots for that day.”

The campaign also drew families to participate in ringing.

“We have families that ring together,” Teresa Riley, local Salvation Army treasurer, said. “They’re trying to teach their children the value of volunteer work. We had one family ring in memory of their father. He was a long-time ringer and supporter of Salvation Army.”

Donations compared favorably to past campaigns.

“Most years, our low would be around $18,000, and very few years were that low,” Riley said. “The high would be somewhere around $22,000. A lot of times, that higher number would be individuals giving a higher amount during the Christmas season, not necessarily that the kettles were low. We’re really pleased with that amount. We always set our goal at $20,000, so we’re just $200 short.”

Bitner believes those who took the time to volunteer or give are aware of how each donation helps the community.

“When they help the Salvation Army, they know that it stays local and helping families in our area, and without the community’s support, we wouldn’t be able to raise that amount of funds,” she said. “To be able to have the groups that want to participate in raising money to help their neighbors, that’s really a big deal for Salvation Army.”

The money will be spent on those in emergency situations in the community.

“We help clients once a week in the emergency capacity if they need help with electricity or food or maybe they’ve exhausted their options at other resources in other groups that provide those services, so we’re kind of an emergency, last stop, ‘We really need this,’ and we help families by providing that after talking to them about what their needs are,” Bitner said. “That’s what all the funds go to, is to provide where we can by doing the most good that we can for that individual person or family.”

The organization is open year-round, and, on a one-time basis, those in need can seek necessities.

“Our main ministry is kicking the power on when they’re getting to get their power shut off, especially families with children,” Riley said. “We will also help with rents, we’ll help with clothing, we’ll help with food. We have a program where we work with Aldi, and they get food. Gas, if they need to get to a job interview or some special need. Really, anything they have a crisis, they can come in and talk to us and we’ll talk to them and see what we can do.”

The Salvation Army needs volunteers to help at the front office. For more information, call Bitner at 757-385-6879.