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Salvation Army’s kettle project a reflection of economy

Staff Intern

The crowd, the bell, and the empty little red bucket swinging from a chain are the mementos of holiday shopping.

The empty has bucket has become a reflection of the economy and the steady river of donation money flowing out of the county.

According to Cindy Duke, executive director of the Salvation Army’s kettle project, the intake from the kettles is averaging $3,000 less than this time last year.

She attributes this downfall to the disaster, which has resulted in many local layoffs and a growing interest in other non-profit organizations that are raising money for New York and Washington.

"We’ve had people tell us they have been laid off recently and people who tell us they have already given money to the disaster," Duke said. "People can’t give if they don’t have it."

Jane Thrash, communication development specialist with the American Red Cross, said she is pleased with the community’s support, but they still need more donations.

According to Thrash, the World Trade Center tragedy has obtained a surplus of money and supplies from across the country. Many of the extra supplies are being stored in warehouses.

"[The ARC] was asked not to collect anymore money or supplies," Thrash said. "A lot of the money sent was for medical purposes, and, since there were no survivors, that money was channeled to the families.

"What we need is money for Pike County and Pike County only," she said.

The ARC supplies participants vouchers for local businesses instead of money, so the money donated stays in Pike County.

"I would like to focus on the locals who are also in just as bad as shape as [the victims of the tragedy]. The disaster is being taken care of. There are people dying here every day. We need to support our community, because, if we don’t take care of ourselves, nobody will," Duke said.

This year’s kettle project has been specialized to strictly Christmas related needs, such as toys and food.

According to Duke, the SA has had to be particular about who receives the proceeds. Thorough background checks are done on all candidates to ensure eligibility.

"We make sure the money is going to the right place," Duke said.

Duke said, if framing a cylinder is possible, they would frame the solitary can of peas that an older woman donated this week.

"It was all she could give," she said.

Kathy Stockman, a bell ringer for the SA who rings in front of Wal-Mart, said her job has been heart-swelling and rewarding.

Stockman, a first year bell ringer, said she has been the most surprised by the amount of young people who have donated money.

"It’s like you can see in their faces that it does them good," Stockman said. "Little kids are also good about encouraging their parents to give money.

"I never realized how good this could make me feel, because you know you are helping someone. I have sent money to New York, but collecting the money is more rewarding than sending money," she said.

Stockman said she plans to ring again next year.