Cold Christmas season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 28, 2000

stings Salvation Army


Features Editor

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Dec. 27, 2000 10 PM

Christmas is a time for giving, but this year retail merchants didn’t get the windfalls they were expecting. Shoppers were either buying less or doing on-line shopping, leaving tons of merchandise on the shelves, much to the delight of after-Christmas bargain hunters.

The Salvation Army also felt the effects of low-shopper turnout.

Although the bells were ringing, there just weren’t that many people to put a jingle in the kettle.

Cindy Duke, executive director for the lower Southern region of the Salvation Army, said the local red kettle campaign brought in less money this year than last "and it hurt."

"This year, our kettle campaign brought in $12,700," she said. "Last year, the campaign totaled $13,600. We had hoped this year would be even bigger."

Duke said locally the weather was a contributing factor.

"The cold seemed to limit shopping and, then when people were out, they were in a hurry to get in the store and out of the weather. Ordinarily, many of them would have taken time to drop something in the kettle."

During this time of year, needs seem to be greater and Duke said the money that came in through the kettle campaign went out as fast as it came in – "sometimes faster."

"Because of the extremely cold weather, we had many requests for assistance with utility bills, especially among the elderly who live on fixed incomes," Duke said. "We only had so much money so we could only do so much."

And, had it not been for the humanitarian efforts of Kenneth Walker and the Bill Fuller family, the kettle campaign would have fallen much shorter in its fund-raising efforts.

"Kenneth Walker rang for us in Eufaula several times," Duke said. "Eufaula is in our area and his going there made a difference in the amount of money collected. Bill and Carol Fuller and their children, Amy and Will, were also real troopers for us. It would be freezing and raining and I would tell them to quit and go home, but they would say people were still putting money in the kettle and they were staying. We appreciate Kenneth Walker, the Fuller family and everyone who rang the bell for us this year. These people helped make a difference in the lives of many who were in great need."

The Salvation Army provides assistance to people with little or no income in emergency-type situations.

"We offer a hand up, not a handout," Duke said. "We provide services in situations where there has been a change in circumstances because of sickness, loss of work, death, fire or some other emergency-type situation. Those living on fixed incomes might have a change in their health which required costly prescriptions and we try and assist them with that. The food bank is always available for those with outstanding circumstances caused by money shortages."

The Salvation Army also responds to natural disasters by providing food, furniture, clothing, cleanup kits, compassion and prayers.

"The Salvation Army is in Tuscaloosa and Geneva right now, assisting in any way possible," Duke said. "The Salvation Army is always one of the first agencies to respond to disaster situations. We go and set up canteens which provide hot meals to anyone who is hungry. The Salvation Army does so many good things and we must depend on the generosity of our communities to make them possible."

Funding for the Salvation Army comes from the kettle campaigns, the thrift shop sales and

the support of the United Way, local churches and individuals.

"We always need items for the thrift shop, so we would like to ask area residents for donations of clothing, household items and furniture. We have a truck to pick up large items such as furniture and appliances that are in working order. If someone calls in the morning, we can usually pick up the items that day."

Anyone who has a pickup item is asked to call the Salvation Army Thrift Shop and Service Center at 807-0200.

"We would also like to ask everyone to begin now thinking about becoming a part of our red kettle campaign next year," Duke said. "Clubs, churches, organizations, schools, other groups and individuals would find it very rewarding to be a bell ringer and it’s a wonderful way to help make Christmas brighter for those in need."