At his post next to a red kettle outside Dillons, bell-ringer John Rasing has noticed the downturn. This year and last, he said, the donations just haven't been coming in like they once did.
"I suppose it's the economy," Rasing said Tuesday.
Numbers from the Salvation Army back up his observations. Heading into the last week of the Army's annual red-kettle fund-raising campaign, the agency is about $15,000 short of its goal of $75,000, said Rochelle Montgomery, administrative assistant in the Salvation Army's Lawrence office. The campaign ends at noon Wednesday.
"We sure would like to meet that goal," Montgomery said. "It's not cause for alarm right now. If we're still $15,000 short by next Tuesday, it will be. Donations usually pick up the last few days before Christmas."
Recent winter storms have hindered collections, she said, but the poor economy over the past two years is probably the main reason for the lower-than-hoped-for donations.
Last year's red-kettle campaign also fell short -- by $10,000 -- of the $75,000 goal. And the downturn in donations comes as demand for Salvation Army services has increased.
The money raised is used by the Salvation Army for general operating expenses, Montgomery said. That includes everything from serving food to the city's homeless to agency payroll. If the goal is missed, she said, cuts will have to be made.
The Salvation Army also is lacking bell ringers for many nights during the week. Though it has a long list of potential volunteers, Montgomery said most couldn't work week nights when ringers are especially needed.
"We have been using a lot of volunteers, but there is room for more, and we'd sure like to sign them up," she said.
Bell-ringers stand by the red kettles outside 19 Lawrence businesses.
"A large portion of our bell-ringers are paid, but we try to send out volunteers to meet the budget constraints," Montgomery said.
The Salvation Army received approval from its headquarters to hire 40 paid bell-ringers who applied for the job, but only about 25 people took positions.
Rasing has worked as a bell-ringer for the past several years. Standing outside the Dillons store, 1740 Mass., he talked about his experience.
"Some nights I do OK, but other nights I earn my wages and that's about it," he said.
Unless the weather is severe, Rasing said he didn't think a cold, snowy day kept people from donating.
"I think maybe we do better on a cold day. I don't know why," he said.
|To volunteer to be a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army's red-kettle campaign, call Rochelle Montgomery at 843-4188. Volunteers are needed primarily week nights.To donate to the Salvation Army, you can drop money in the red kettles outside stores and businesses around the city, or send a check to the Salvation Army, 946 N.H., Lawrence 66044.|