Salvation Army reaches Christmas fundraising goal

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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The totals from this year’s Salvation Army Red Kettle Drive are in, and according to Maj. Sandy Hunt the results were successful.

“We had very good results,” said Hunt who, along with Capt. Marie Lewis, led the campaign. “We were able to meet our goals, our Christmas goals, which was wonderful.”

The organization’s goal for the Christmas fundraiser was $234,000, and they ended up raising $234,604. The kettle goal was to raise $55,000.

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“We had an anonymous donor who was willing to match up to $50,000 for our kettles as an incentive for other people to also match and for an incentive for people to donate,” she said.

The organization ended up raising $69,682 from countertop kettles and other things. And once the donor heard what the organization raised, they increased their match to $63,128.

“We thank this person from the bottom of our hearts, so very supportive,” Hunt said. “Without this person’s help we would not be able to do what we are able to do in this community.”

“This person has been here and been a supporter both of all of our programs that we have, as well as in this way,” Lewis said.

The Albert Lea Masons, who rang at Hy-Vee and Bomgaars one weekend, raised about $6,649.

“Their headquarters here in Minnesota matched that, so we got an extra $6,649.58 from them also, too,” she said.

Hunt said money raised will stay in the community and help people with food, utilities and however else it can help.

She also admitted she was surprised by the increase in the number of people in need of assistance for Christmas, and said the organization had a lot more requests.

This year, the organization helped 744 children receive 1,618 toys. By comparison, last year the organization helped 638 children.

They also helped a total of 375 families, an increase of 36 more families than last year, with food and toys. The Albert Lea Salvation Army helped 1,321 total people, an increase from last year when they helped 1,014 during the 2021 Christmas season.

It wasn’t just toys being handed out either. Scarves, hats, mittens, winter gear, blankets and books were also distributed.

“We’re just seeing the need increase from year to year,” Hunt said. “The need is out there, and even though … we don’t always see the need that’s there, it is there.”

Hunt was also thankful.

“We were really blessed by the generosity of the people of this community,” Hunt said. “We’re just very, very happy and pleased with the generosity on that.”

“This is our main fundraiser, concentrated main fundraiser, but it’s not our only fundraiser and it’s not the only thing that supports all of our programs,” Lewis said, and noted while it was a great piece, it didn’t last them the entire year.

According to Lewis, the campaign started the day after Thanksgiving and lasted through Christmas Eve. There are three regular bell-ringing locations: Bomgaars, Walmart and Hy-Vee.