The bells are ringing as they normally do at this time of year, but the red kettles aren’t jingling with as much money as usual, according to a local Salvation Army official.
While joblessness and the resulting sagging economy continue to be culprits when it comes to people parting with their cash, a larger grinch-culprit affecting the army’s annual red-kettle collections is none other than the calendar.
Thanksgiving came six days later this year than in 2012, which lessened the amount of time available for red kettle collections during the holiday season. That has meant less money received by Salvation Army units around the country, with Mount Airy no exception.
“It has affected us,” Maj. Michael Rodgers of the local charity organization said of the later starting date this year. Since some national chain stores have rules that prohibit red-kettle collections before Thanksgiving, bell-ringers may not set up shop until the day after.
At last report, the red kettle collections in Mount Airy were about $7,000 to $8,000 under what they were at the same time in 2012, Rodgers said of the slow start this year.
He indicated that the economy appears to be less of a factor for the lagging donations than the timing of Thanksgiving. In contrast, another holiday effort of the Salvation Army — its Angel Tree campaign that also depends on financial support from the public — has been a success, Rodgers said.
The Mount Airy Salvation Army seeks to raise about $50,000 each year through its red kettle collections, and while the giving is being limited by a shortened holiday season there are no limits on the problems the funds target.
“It’s a tremendous amount of need in the area,” Rodgers said, pointing out that the money is used for more than just the Salvation Army’s holiday assistance programs. “It’s not only Christmas, but it’s our annual appeal,” he said of the red kettle funding that supports the army’s operations to aid the needy throughout the year.
“Of course, it’s not over yet,” Rodgers said of the fact that red kettle collections will continue to Christmas Eve, now a week away.
He said that in the few years he has served with the Salvation Army in Mount Airy, the public has a way of responding to a need once it has been identified. “And things come to us,” Rodgers said.
That is the hope this year, with people being asked to dig a little deeper to help compensate for the shortened season.
Donating to the campaign is easy, with red kettles placed strategically at local shopping areas. This includes two stations at Walmart in Mount Airy; two at Mayberry Mall, near Belk and Kmart; at Big Lots; at Lowes Foods; and locations in Pilot Mountain and Elkin.
Rodgers said the kettles are manned by a small army of volunteers, including members of churches, scout troops, civic clubs and individuals.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.