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Salvation Army's Red Kettle Season Sees Drop in Donations

Erin Gottsacker/WXPR

For many, the sound of the Salvation Army’s bells outside their community grocery store signals the start of a season of giving.

But this year, fewer people are reaching into their pockets.

The Salvation Army is anticipating a 50 percent drop in holiday donations this year, a trend local Salvation Army workers are noticing in the Northwoods.

Kim Swisher, the Kettle Coordinator for the Minocqua Salvation Army, said fewer people are signing up for bell ringing shifts this year because of concerns about COVID-19.

As a result, donations for the Minocqua Salvation Army are down, at a time when need is great.

“People have been very generous and as of [Monday] we’ve raised almost $8,000, but usually we raise about $35,000 in a season,” Swisher said. “We’re concerned. We’re very concerned.”

Of every dollar donated to the Salvation Army, 86 cents stay in the local community, with the remaining 14 going to state and national efforts.

In Minocqua, the donated money will provide emergency assistance for people struggling to cover the costs of housing and utilities, transportation and medical services.

“We’re not sending the money far away. We’re helping our neighbors.  We’re helping people in our community,” Swisher said.

Swisher worries that with fewer donations, the Salvation Army will be less equipped to help local residents meet their needs, especially when the moratorium on utility cutoffs is lifted in April.

“I guess we’ll have to wait and see if there’s a Christmas miracle in the works,” she said.

To sign up for a bell ringing shift or to donate virtually, visit the Salvation Army’s website.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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