By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer
As of Tuesday, the local headquarters of the Salvation Army was down $10,000 to $12,000 in donations compared to this time last year, said Salvation Army Capt. Sally Love.
Some may be unaware of this, but “all of the money donated in Richmond stays in Richmond,” Love said. And 60 percent of the donations used to help people all year are collected at Christmas-time. These donations help fund a soup kitchen, thrift store and shelter right here in Madison County.
The Richmond branch has a work area expanding over Estill, Lee and Rockcastle counties as well, she said. Funds collected from those areas also go back into those communities.
One factor has contributed to the shortfall in donations: the lack of people who carry cash. Newspapers from all over the nation have reported the same problem, leaving the signature red kettles shortchanged everywhere.
Last year, however, Salvation Army USA reported a 3.4 percent increase in overall donations from 2010. This accomplishment was, in part, due to increased online donations, according to a release from the organization.
“We have been working to expand the Red Kettle Campaign to reach new and young donors,” said Commissioner William Roberts, National Commander of The Salvation Army. “Technology is changing the way charities raise money. Whether through a credit card at a kettle or online, we’re making an effort to reach the next generation of donors and make it convenient for people to support the campaign.”
As with donations collected at local storefronts, all money collected online from those who indicate they live in Richmond, will go back into the community, Love said.
One option is the Online Red Kettle (onlineredkettle.org). Donors can create online kettle teams and share the link through email and social media (Search your smartphone app store — there’s an app for that).
“Online bell-ringers” have collected funds for the seventh year in a row and raised more than $1.7 million last year, up from $1.6 million in 2010.
Other online donations in November and December, not through the Online Red Kettle systems, totaled $17.6 million, a 28-percent increase over the $13.7 million raised in 2010, according to the release.
There also have been nationwide efforts to make donations easier for those who only carry debit/credit cards. Last year, smartphones and mobile credit card readers were donated to the Salvation Army to begin test markets in San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and New York.
Love said the decision to have mobile card readers in Madison County locations will be reassessed each year, but they also must consider how that might impact partners that allow bell-ringers in their storefronts.
Donors may also visit the Richmond Salvation Army office at 1675 E. Main Street to donate using a credit card, Love said. Check donations may be sent to the same location.
Angel Giving Tree
This Saturday, the Richmond Salvation Army location will be distributing Christmas food bags, gifts and stockings to more than 450 children, seniors and low-income families as part of the Angel Giving Tree program, Love said.
Although registration to benefit from this program ended in October, people will have the opportunity to sign up for any goods that are leftover on Monday and Tuesday (Dec. 17-18) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Richmond location.
The Christmas food bags include around $25 worth of “all the fixings of a holiday dinner,” Love said. Children will receive gifts, as well as age-appropriate stuffed stockings for both boys and girls.
For the first time, age-appropriate stockings have been prepared for senior citizens who receive food bags from the Angel Giving Tree, Love said.
Those who would like to apply for any of the leftover goods would need to provide proof of income or government assistance, a picture ID for the head of household and social security cards or birth certificates for each member of the family.
“If you qualify for food stamps, you would most likely qualify for our program,” said Love, who uses similar income criteria regarding family size.
Those who qualify for the Angel Giving Tree also must not have already benefited from any other children’s gift assistance in town, she said.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at email@example.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.