In just a few short days, the familiar ringing of bells and shiny red kettles will return to many businesses in Newton as the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign kicks off its 2012 effort.
Although Salvation Army Captains Mikey and Jeff Carter may be new to town, the fundraising effort will largely remain unchanged.
“We haven’t changed a whole lot because what’s worked is still working,” Jeff said. “We called all the stores that had red kettles in the past, and they all agreed to do that again this year.”
This means that the Newton Corps of the Salvation Army, which serves all of Jasper County, will have kettles placed at seven locations across Newton from Friday to Dec. 24.
Despite only lasting a month during the holiday season, Jeff emphasized that the money raised during the campaign is essential to the Salvation Army’s operations year-round.
“It’s important to remind people that it’s not just for Christmas assistance, not just for holiday toys and food, it’s what keeps this building up and running throughout the year and funds all of our programs,” he said.
“This season we’re looking to raise about a third of the income that supports us throughout the year,” Mikey added.
This year, that totals $117,000, with a goal of $41,500 for the Red Kettle Campaign alone. This just barely exceeds last year’s Newton Corps Red Kettle total of $40,128. According to Mikey, the goal exceeds last year’s total simply because the cost of many essentials the Salvation Army helps to provide — utility and rental assistance among them — has risen.
In addition, a portion of the Corps’ funds go to help needy families in the community, ensuring that their pantries remain stocked.
“Some of the money goes to help stock our food shelf,” Mikey said. “Households in need can access it every 30 days, and we’ve seen an increase in need over the last few months.”
While the food pantry the Salvation Army offers certainly covers the everyday essentials, what about holiday meals?
“About 200 families completed the sign-up to receive Thanksgiving baskets this year,” Mikey explained. “The week of Thanksgiving, these families can come by and receive a basket with food for a traditional Thanksgiving meal — usually a chicken or turkey, potatoes, vegetables and fruit — to make their Thanksgiving meals complete.”
The Corps offers a similar program for those in need of assistance around Christmas, however, the final number of recipients for 2012 has yet to be tabulated.
While the captains have worked to coordinate the Red Kettle Campaign with businesses around town, much of the actual outreach is handled by those within the Newton community.
“We really rely on volunteers, civic groups, church groups and families who are willing to ring for an hour or two,” Jeff said. “If people don’t want to ring, they can sign up to go caroling too. My son and I will be getting out our horns to play along, and I know other folks from the church have been practicing.”
“Bell-ringing can be a fun way to spend a few hours with a friend or with your family,” Mikey added. “It’s a great lesson for kids ... plus you get to see so many people, you run into your neighbors and friends and inspire them to give — it’s a great benefit to the community.”
Those with perhaps a little less spare change lying around may donate to the Red Kettle Campaign online at www.onlineredkettle.org, which provides an option to designate that your donation stays local to further benefit those in need in Jasper County.