WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) -- The Salvation Army of Winnebago County has been running on a tight budget the last several years as more people are asking for help and fewer donors are opening their wallets.
This Christmas, however, the Salvation Army does have something extra to celebrate. Those pennies and dimes you may have dropped into the Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles this season have added up. According to Major Randy Hellstrom from the Salvation Army, he's confident this will be the first time in three years that the Red Kettle campaign will reach its goal. The Salvation Army hoped to raise $200,000 from its Red Kettle Campaign in 2012. The final numbers aren't in yet, but Hellstrom is hopeful. Those donations help to fund the Salvation Army all year long, especially at Christmas time. This year the group passed out food and toys to 14,000 people. Organizers didn't know what to expect this Christmas because during the past several years, fewer people have been giving and more people have been receiving.
“To make our goal in this economy is very good news for us. The economy affects the Salvation Army in both ways. The donations drop and the need rises, so we get caught in that. We've been living on a shoestring budget; we’ve had to make lots of cuts. So this year I think we'll be able to breath as we serve this community,” says Hellstrom, the Winnebago County Organizer for the Salvation Army.
Even though you won’t hear those familiar ringing bells anymore this year, the Red Kettle Campaign runs through the end of January. The overall goal for the Christmas campaign is $500,000. This fundraiser is the biggest one of the year for the Salvation Army and makes up 20 percent of the group’s annual budget.