The local Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Drivehas a goal of raising $125,000 by Dec. 24.
As her 7-year-old sister, Carolyn, rang a hand bell, Anne Dinsdale, 11, grinned while she stood behind the Salvation Army kettle in downtown Lawrence.
"It's fun," Anne said, looking down at the donations of coins and green bills filling up the red kettle.
"We've raised $50 and some," said Kim Livingood, 11, who was also serving as a volunteer bell ringer.
The three girls participated in Friday morning's kickoff of the Salvation Army's annual Christmas Kettle Drive in front of Mercantile Bank, Ninth and Massachusetts streets.
This year's goal is to raise $125,000 in the kettles placed at local businesses and through a mail appeal, said Salvation Army Lt. Caroline Schuetz.
Some of the kettles and bell ringers have already been out earlier this month and have raised $22,652 toward the goal, Schuetz said.
Updates will be announced each Friday during the 6 p.m. news broadcast on Sunflower Channel 6.
The kettles will be at Wal-Mart, Kmart, SuperTarget, the three Dillons stores, Hy-Vee, Checkers, J.C. Penney's, the Antique Mall and the Mercantile Bank.
Friday morning's program featured Mayor Bonnie Augustine reading a proclamation naming Friday as the annual kick-off day. Instrumental Christmas music was provided by the Four Leaf Clover 4-H Club. Nancy Ezell was named the honorary kettle drive chair.
Schuetz said the plan is to meet the $125,000 goal by Dec. 24. But the kettles will remain up past that date until the goal is reached, she said.
Last year's kettle drive raised $116,000, falling short of the $150,000 goal that had been set.
"I think $125,000 is a very realistic and attainable goal," said Rowena Pine, Christmas chair of the Salvation Army's advisory board.
She said the kettle drives date back to December 1891 in San Francisco. They are now used to raise funds throughout the United States, Korea, Japan, Chile and in many European countries. In the U.S., the Salvation Army annual drive aids more than 3 million people at Thanksgiving and Christmas
Lt. Kirk Schuetz, the Salvation Army's chaplain, said the church is well known for its social service programs and is a United Way agency.
The annual kettle drive helps to raise a third of the budget for all of the local programs, he said.
Services include a food pantry, emergency assistance funds to help people with rents and utilities, a meal program, an emergency shelter and a youth basketball program.
"What we've found is if everybody gives a little bit, it does help," said Barb Reavis, United Way executive director.
The Salvation Army is also looking for volunteer bell ringers to help in the effort. Those wishing to volunteer can call during weekdays at 843-4188.
"The more volunteers we have, the fewer (bell ringers) we have to pay," Schuetz said. "The goal on the weekend is to have all volunteers."
-- Dave Toplikar's phone message number is 832-7151. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.