Kettle campaign donations down from last yearWith about two weeks until Christmas Eve —the last day the signature bells will ring — Salvation Army in Jamestown says its fundraising efforts are down this year compared to last.
With about two weeks until Christmas Eve —the last day the signature bells will ring — Salvation Army in Jamestown says its fundraising efforts are down this year compared to last.
The Salvation Army Kettle Campaign is an annual fundraiser to support the church and its assistance programs in the area. The goal for the campaign, which began last month, is $118,000. So far, the campaign is about $5,000 behind where it was at this time last year, said Lt. Mitch Brecto.
Salvation Army in Jamestown has served the Jamestown community for more than 100 years, he said. One of those families assisted belonged to Shirleen Pettet. Twenty-eight years ago, Pettet’s husband lost his job after the plant where he worked in Indiana closed. The Pettets and their three children moved to Jamestown, where Shirleen’s parents lived. Struggling with expenses while looking for work, Salvation Army provided the family with a Christmas basket that year, so the family could celebrate the holiday with a special meal.
On Wednesday, Shirleen rang the signature Salvation Army bell at its new location inside the Sears entrance at Buffalo Mall.
“God’s blessed me,” Shirleen said Wednesday, sitting next to her friend, Shirley K. Meidinger. “I want to help others.”
Salvation Army added a kettle and bell-ringing location at the Buffalo Mall, in addition to the Kmart entrance location, after the closing of County Market grocery store.
The kettle campaign’s target this year in Jamestown is up $13,000 from last year’s goal of $105,000, Brecto said.
That’s because need is up compared to prior years, said Lt. Teresa Brecto of the Salvation Army.
“A lot of people are still one check away from being homeless,” Teresa said, saying in the last eight months, Salvation Army in Jamestown helped about 120 people at risk of losing their homes because they couldn’t pay their bills.
Although the campaign is struggling this year compared to last, Teresa said the church has received some generous donations including a $500 check deposited into one of the kettles on Friday. Friday was the campaign’s best day so far in part due to the $1,170 gathered by ringers from the Rotary Club at the Sears entrance location at Buffalo Mall.
The funds generated make up about 20 percent of the Salvation Army’s annual budget.
In addition to its assistance with emergency lodging, prescription assistance, food, heat and rental assistance, Salvation Army also helps around the state and the country. Local volunteers and staff deployed to Minot this year to help with flood cleanup, repairs and spiritual guidance.
One of its programs is the Angel Tree, in which area residents can purchase suggested items for families struggling to provide holiday gifts for their children. For example, one “angel” may read: Joe, age 4, size 4T, likes trucks and tractors.
A family can select that “angel” and purchase a gift for that child.
“Those who receive (the Angel Tree gifts) are in tears,” Teresa Brecto said.
And response to that program so far is meeting expectations, she said, saying about 300 children are signed up for it. She said families who sign up for Angel Tree gifts do not also receive gifts from other popular Christmas gift programs like Toys for Tots.
“It’s not fair to receive from both,” she said.
One of the children on the list is the 5-year-old daughter of LaJuana and Jerad Watt. The Watts moved to Jamestown recently from Texas after LaJuana’s father died. Jerad found work at a fast-food restaurant, but at first, the couple struggled to make ends meet. Salvation Army provided the family with food as well as winter attire.
Although in a dire financial situation at first, LaJuana said her family hasn’t had to ask the Salvation Army for assistance in about two months. She rang the bell for the church at Buffalo Mall on Wednesday.
The couple try to provide gifts for their children, but when their 5-year-old asked for a dollhouse to store her miniature Disney princesses, LaJuana knew it was out of her budget.
“It makes you feel down and out because you know you can’t afford what they want,” she said.
LaJuana said she told her daughter not to get her hopes up and to remember the real meaning of Christmas.
For more information on the Salvation Army, call the church at 252-0290.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at kryan-anderson@ jamestownsun.com