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Just one week remains to meet Red Kettle goal

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With only a week left for area Salvation Army organizations’ red kettle campaigns, organization officials fear they may have to reduce their programs and services if their monetary goals are not met.

Since the campaigns began early last month, they have collected just over $65,000 in Watertown and $41,000 in Ogdensburg. The estimated total was not available Monday for Massena’s campaign.

Watertown Salvation Army Lt. Zeb Hough said donations are down significantly from last year, which may be attributed to tough economic times and a smaller volunteer corps.

“The real turn this year was with our full-time volunteers. Where normally we’d have 17 to 20, it was 11 to 13 this year,” he said. “That knocked out some smaller places we stand.”

He said all volunteers have been helpful, especially dedicated ones who stand from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. One woman, Caroline Burlingame, celebrated her 35th season volunteering full time for the campaign, Lt. Hough said

In Massena, Salvation Army Lt. Russell Crowsen said the Salvation Army has had fewer red kettle stands due to corporate contracts and rules, so the agency is receiving less money. He said Monday that he wouldn’t have a total until later this week. The goal there is to raise $66,000.

Ogdensburg Salvation Army Capt. Timothy A. Shaffer said he was unsure of the reason his agency is short $4,000 of its $45,000 goal, but he said he hopes the last week will bring in much-needed donations. The campaign ends Monday for all Salvation Army agencies.

“If we don’t raise $45,000, that means we have to cut some programs, whether it be helping with rent and utilities, a youth program or the food pantry,” Capt. Shaffer said. “We’re also starting a soup kitchen in January, where people can come in and get a hot meal once a week. Less money will make it harder on that.”

While donations in American money have slightly declined, Capt. Shaffer said, Canadians have been generous donors as they shop at businesses where red kettles stand.

One trend Lt. Hough said he’s noticed in the Watertown area is people are giving more change than they have in past years.

“That’s just a sign of the times,” he said. “We take two bags to the bank every day and it’s just a lot more change than bills. (A few) nights ago, we came across our first $100 bill this season, and that’s off because they usually pop up from the beginning.”

The red kettle campaign goal for the Watertown Salvation Army is $115,000, but Lt. Hough said the agency is on track to make about $90,000 — unless there’s a Christmas miracle.

Last year, the agencies surpassed their goals by collecting $103,000 in Watertown, $45,000 in Ogdensburg, and $58,000 in Massena.

People or groups still interested in volunteer bell-ringing in the last week of the campaign may contact Lt. Hough at 782-4470, Capt. Shaffer at 393-3351 or Lt. Crowsen at 769-5154.

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