Employees of a local investment firm, with the help of a corporate match, will give $3,100 to the Salvation Army's homeless shelter, and they're hoping others will follow the lead.
As the Salvation Army's annual holiday bell campaign begins ringing throughout Lawrence, donations to the city's only overnight homeless shelter continue to chime in.
And one business has challenged other community businesses to rally around the shelter and help keep it open through winter.
Today, Salvation Army officials will receive the second part of a $3,100 donation from Piper Jaffray Inc., a Lawrence investment firm. The gift is the most substantial yet in the campaign to raise the $15,000 necessary to pay two full-time directors minimum wage.
The effort was spurred by reports last month that the shelter could not afford to stay open.
Betsy Anderson, case worker for the Salvation Army, said donations would reach $9,000 today.
Piper Jaffray, a 10-employee firm, used a match from its corporate headquarters in Minneapolis to almost double its initial $1,600 donation. Jeff Sharp, Piper Jaffray vice president, said the intent is for other local businesses to follow suit.
"I'm sure that there are other businesses that, if they understand how serious this is ... (the money) will come very soon," Sharp said. "I can't imagine a community this size not having someplace for people to go this time of year."
The Fraternal Order of Police this week also announced a contribution to the shelter. Lt. Dan Crowe of the Douglas County Sheriff's department said the organization gave $500, because the Salvation Army "has done a lot for the officers."
When families have been stranded in Douglas County with car trouble, for example, officers took them to the shelter.
The city estimates that at least 280 homeless people live in Lawrence. As many as two dozen homeless people a night seek shelter at the Salvation Army, which sets up cots in the gymnasium following basketball games.
The shelter traditionally opens Oct. 15, operating from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m., seven days a week, through May 1.
After state grants were trimmed this year to provide for operation expenses but not for staff salaries, the availability of the shelter remained in question until Nov. 8, when donations allowed Salvation Army commander Maj. Daniel Uptegrove to commit to a winter schedule.
"I think it just shows that Lawrence is a caring community," Anderson said. "We have had a lot of response from people -- calling, seeing what they can do, volunteering, bringing in food."
And the donations have been of all different sizes.
"We also every once in a while have people give us a dollar bill," Anderson said, referring to a letter published in the Journal-World asking residents to give $1.