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Kettle Campaign lagging, as only 37 percent of goal raised

The Salvation Army in Jamestown is looking for more people like David Patzer, back, and his sons, Isaac, left, Sam, James and Eli, to ring the bells and man the kettles during the Christmas season. (Kari Lucin/The Sun)

The Salvation Army in Jamestown is looking for a few good ringers — and donations to help meet its fundraising goal.

The nonprofit is well into its 2013 Christmas Campaign, which consists of the Kettle Campaign and an appeal for donations through the mail. Lt. Mitch Brecto, who runs the Salvation Army Jamestown Worship and Service Center on First Avenue North, said on Friday the Salvation Army in Jamestown has achieved only 37 percent of its $147,000 goal.

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“Right now we need to raise $87,000 by the end of the year to reach our goal,” he said.

Usually by the end of the first week in December the Salvation Army has reached 55 percent of its Christmas Campaign fundraising goal. The campaign funds operations all year for the church.

Brecto and his wife, Teresa, who manages the Salvation Army Thrift Store on Business Loop West, are having problems finding enough people to man the kettles at different locations around Jamestown.

“We’ve got over 600 hours of bell ringing left in the season,” Mitch Brecto said.

Lt. Teresa Brecto said the Kettle Campaign accounts for about 70 percent of the fundraising for the Salvation Army in Jamestown, with the mail appeal for donations responsible for 30 percent of the overall Christmas Campaign.

Mitch Brecto said some popular spots to ring the bell for the Kettle Campaign, like in the Buffalo Mall in front of the Home of Economy and the Sears store, are empty during the week due to a lack of volunteers.

“These are good, indoor locations,” he said.

Holiday, weather affect campaign

Part of the problem could be a late Thanksgiving coupled with a winter storm and extreme cold weather that followed it last week. Mitch Brecto said some volunteers had to cancel their bell-ringing times due to the weather.

“I know I had difficulty getting around until the streets were plowed. Even then, I still had problems getting around,” he said.

With high temperatures not even reaching zero toward the end of last week, Brecto said bell ringers in outdoor locations had to take more breaks to warm up.

When a volunteer bell ringer doesn’t show up, Brecto said he usually steps in, which takes him away from his other duties.

Salvation Army kettles will be out at participating businesses until 4 p.m. Dec. 24. As of Friday afternoon, Brecto said no one has volunteered to man any of the kettles on Christmas Eve in Jamestown.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful for a family or some friends to start a new holiday tradition and ring the bells at a kettle on Christmas Eve day, maybe sing some carols,” he said.

Ringing the bell at a kettle is also a good way for people to donate their time, versus giving money, Brecto added.

“It’s a great way to give back to the community for people who may not be able to afford to make a monetary donation,” he said.

Brecto said he is pleased that service clubs and some community and business groups that traditionally take part in the Kettle Campaign have continued to do so this year.

“The service clubs, Kiwanis, Rotary, they all have volunteers ready, same with the Lions Club,” he said.

The Anne Carlsen Center and Alpha Opportunities have made arrangements with the Jamestown Salvation Army to have their clients participate in bell ringing at kettles.

“That has helped us a lot and it gives their clients something to do. A lot of the nursing homes will do this, too,” Brecto said.

He said he also hasn’t seen any “matching” donations from individuals or businesses. Usually a person or business will match donations made at a given kettle during a specific time period. He said he hopes that donations and participation in the Kettle Campaign pick up this week.

‘Needs needs no season’

Lt. Teresa Brecto said more people will be helped by the Salvation Army this holiday season through its Christmas programs. For the Angel Tree project, 247 children have been signed up, down from 270 in 2012. Overall, Brecto said, 459 people will receive assistance in the form of a holiday meal, which is up from 371 in 2012.

“The need has went up tremendously this year,” she said.

The Angel Tree project is where the first name of a child and his or her “wish list” of presents are put on a paper ornament and placed on Christmas trees at locations around Jamestown. People are asked to pick a child from one of the trees and buy a present or two from the child’s list.

Mitch Brecto said the Salvation Army nationwide received a boost with Walmart’s “Fill the Truck Toy Drive” The retail chain has placed collection boxes in each store and customers may drop off new, unwrapped toys in box. All the toys collected will go to the Angel Tree project.

“That will be a big boost for us,” he said.

Teresa Brecto said the nonprofit receives donations from Jamestown residents and from people throughout Stutsman County. On Friday Linda Glen, the facilitator for LaMoure Public School’s Family Career and Community Leaders of America chapter, dropped off 93 winter clothing items collected at North Dakota schools including LaMoure, Ellendale, Lisbon, Edgeley, Gwinner, Cooperstown and Oakes.

“Those students collected coats, snowpants, boots, hats and mittens, and they chose the Salvation Army to receive it. ‘Needs’ needs no season,” Teresa Brecto said.

Donations for the Angel Tree program are due Dec. 15. Brecto said they are in need of board games and stocking stuffers. The Angel Tree distribution will take place Dec. 17 and 18 at the Salvation Army on First Avenue North.

To learn more about the Kettle Campaign, or to volunteer, call 252-0290, or go to

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454