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Ogdensburg Salvation Army seeks donations in harsh winter

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A combination of fewer bell-ringing days and brutally cold temperatures meant the Ogdensburg Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign did not meet its 2013 goal, and, as a result, the organization is now scrambling to feed the community’s families.

The Salvation Army typically receives 75 percent of its donations during December, Captain Angela S. Shaffer said Monday. That money is supposed to help feed 30 to 40 families well into the next year, but that hasn’t been the case.

The 2013 calendar, which included a late Thanksgiving, contributed to the uphill fundraising battle, as did frigid temperatures which resulted in some no-shows for volunteer s.

“The last week of our kettle-raising campaigning we typically raise the most — on average, about $10,000 — but we weren’t able to do that with the ice storm,” Mrs. Shaffer said.

Mrs. Shaffer said the Salvation Army collected $41,000, but $14,000 was deducted for payroll, as organizers were forced to spend more money on paid bell-ringers.

“Unfortunately we had to hire people because it was too cold for many people,” she said. “We had several employees cancel on us for sickness as well.”

To keep its pantry stocked, Mrs. Shaffer said the Salvation Army has cut back its pantry availability to individual families from every 30 to every 60 days.

“We just can’t afford it,” Mrs. Shaffer said. “We also had to take money from other programs such as the Sunday afternoon children’s lunch and craft program.”

Mrs. Shaffer said changes in the food stamp program also mean the demand for food assistance has risen.

“Many families lost about $10 per person,” Mrs. Shaffer said. “We have more and more people coming in asking for extra food — about 20 to 30 people. They usually slam us at the end of the month when food stamps run out.”

Colder temperatures have increased the demand for clothing at the Salvation Army’s thrift store, Seek-N-Find.

“We’re not bringing in income from our thrift store,” Mrs. Shaffer said. “We have to keep offering vouchers. Mostly because, financially, it’s been tighter for people. They’re asking for hats and gloves for their kids because they can’t afford them.”

To make a donation to the Salvation Army, stop by the building at 401 Franklin St. from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, or the Seek-N-Find thrift store at 727 State St. from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Salvation Army offers a weekly soup kitchen from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday.

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