By CHRIS MORRIS
NEW ALBANY —
The sound of ringing bells around shopping malls and grocery stores can only mean one thing — a Salvation Army red kettle is nearby.
The kettles, and bell ringers who man the red pots, are part of the holiday tradition. But this year, the sound has somewhat fallen on deaf ears in Clark and Floyd counties.
The red kettles are the largest fundraiser for The Salvation Army. This year, for a number of reasons, donations are down. Only one weekend, and Monday and Tuesday of next week, remain to try and make up about $40,000 which is the amount donations are down this year. The goal for the red kettles, which are placed in front of retailers the second week of November through Christmas Eve each year, is $235,000. The Salvation Army Center of Hope in New Albany services six counties — Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Scott, Crawford and Washington counties
“We are down considerably; this weekend will be our last big push,” Maj. Stephen Kiger said.
Kiger said there are three reasons why he thinks less money has been placed in the kettles. He said since Thanksgiving hit late this year, Nov. 28, people got in the holiday mindset about a week later than usual and there was a shorter giving season. He also said the uncertain economy still plays a factor in donations as does the weather, which has been cold this month with snow. This weekend heavy rain is expected in the area.
Kiger said kettle donations across the country are also down this year.
“The kettle donations help all of our programs throughout the year. They help with Christmas and beyond that,” he said. “We really appreciate all donations.”
The red kettles were launched as a fundraising tool in 1891 by Capt. Joseph McFee as a way to help feed the needy at Christmas in the San Francisco area, according to The Salvation Army website. The idea spread to the East Coast six years later.
Red Kettles are also manned by Army volunteers in other European countries as well as Japan and South Korea.