Donations to those friendly Salvation Army bell-ringers with the red kettles are down this year by nearly 50 percent in the St. Louis region, the charity organization said in a news release.
Compared with the run-up to Christmas Eve last year, donations are down by $427,000. Nationwide, donations are down 17 percent compared to this time last year. In St. Clair County, they’re down nearly 20 percent.
Lt. Colonel Dan Jennings, Salvation Army Midland divisional commander, said it is “critical” that the Tree of Lights fundraising campaign reach its $6.1 million goal.
“The need for services and programs for women and children, seniors, youth, the homeless, our military veterans and during times of disasters remains dire. If we are unable to meet our campaign goal, The Salvation Army is at risk of having to cut programs that serve our community year round,” Jennings said.
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Money raised in the campaign stays local, and 86 cents of every dollar directly supports programs and services. After funding holiday meals, gifts and programs for those in need, Tree of Lights donations help provide food, shelter, child care, job training and other services throughout the year.
The Salvation Army is also seeking toy donations for infants and toddlers up to age 2. Donations are also needed for items for youth ages 10 to 16 for girls and boys. Youth items include tween or teen board games, wallets, purses, nail polish, perfume, cologne, bath and body wash, craft kits, jewelry, speakers, headphones, skate boards, remote-controlled cars, helicopters, watches, bikes and helmets.
Last year, The Salvation Army provided more than 107,000 meals to hungry men, women and children, nearly 85,000 nights of shelter to the community’s homeless, more than 31,000 grocery orders to families in need, and more than 95,000 Christmas toys and gifts.
To make a donation, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY, visit the Tree of Lights Campaign or text GIVEHOPE to 41444.