KALAMAZOO, Mich. — They’re on street corners, grocery stores and standing in front of major retail shops. They're ringing shiny bells and greeting passers-by with a smile and a friendly “Merry Christmas.” Holiday shoppers sometimes dodge these Salvation Army volunteers when trying to get to the next store. However officials with the organization are hoping they stop and put a few bucks into the red kettles the volunteers are ringing for.
“The funds are down,” said Major Sherrie Welch during an interview at the Kalamazoo headquarters. “We have wonderful volunteers. We have a lot of volunteers out there but the money’s just not coming in like we had hoped.”
Welch said they’d set a goal to raise $160,000 through the Red Kettle campaign by Christmas. However, they’re only 70 percent of the way there.
“It is discouraging in someways,” said Welch, also a corps officer with the Salvation Army “We’re concerned about that but we’re also hopeful.”
Donations have dropped in the past, Welch said. She believes it’s because people don’t carry change around like they use to. People tend to carry credit cards, especially the younger generations.
“Online shopping is a big one,” said Welch. “People like to do their shopping at home, sitting in their comfy chair, enjoying their hot chocolate or coffee and just order on the computer.”
Welch understands though. She’s done it too she said smiling. It's easier to stay inside if the weather isn't favorable. If it’s too hot people typically aren’t in the Christmas spirit and it's harder to give. If it’s too cold, then they won’t send their volunteers out.
“One of the hardest things is when we don’t have a person at the Kettle, then people just pass right by it,” said Welch. “They don’t even see it. So it’s crucial that we have volunteers ringing that bell.”
And they do. The Salvation Army has dozens of volunteers placed throughout Kalamazoo County. She said they’re grateful for them and knows its because of their handwork that they’ll reach their goal.
“We also have this weekend going on a Kettle Match for $5,000,” said Welch. “So the more you contribute the more money we can raise because we have that match going on and that’s pretty awesome.”
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