Salvation Army surpasses Christmas kettle goal

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

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By Alex Guerrero

Bells have stopped ringing and the red kettles are no longer visible, which means the Salvation Army’s Christmas kettle campaign is over and the final numbers are in. 

The campaign raised $209,000, which was $10,000 more than the $199,000 goal, said Maj. Sandy Hunt, who oversees the work of the Salvation Army throughout Freeborn County.

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Fundraising started Nov. 20 and lasted through Dec. 24 with three primary bell-ringing locations, Walmart, Bomgaars and Hy-Vee. There were also countertop kettles scattered around town.

“We just had some very generous people in our community whose generosity is really helping Albert Lea and Freeborn County,” she said. “We were so pleased that we could meet our fundraising goal.” 

All their work goes towards helping the Salvation Army throughout the year and includes supporting their food pantry, daily lunches and other emergency social services.

Besides trying to raise money, the organization was also busy during the Christmas season conducting a toy distribution and giving out food baskets in conjunction with Alpha Media and Hy-Vee at the grocery store. 

“They were big supporters of that,” she said. “They helped raise the funds to pay for it, those Christmas baskets.”

Each basket contained a meal consisting of pork loin, mashed potatoes, vegetables, fruit and desserts.

Every recipient family had to call the Salvation Army and complete an application over the phone, which was different than past years where families would stop by the organization.

“Everybody was able to reach it if they needed to,” she said. “It’s been two years that we’ve had to make adjustments because of COVID, and so we were able to just go with the flow and we handled this very well.”

In total, 339 families received food and/or gifts, and 643 children received toys.

The Salvation Army is both a church and social services organization whose goal is to help people without discrimination. The Army has been in Freeborn County, specifically Albert Lea, for 126 years.