Red kettles not so full this year

(AP)

December 24, 2009 2:54:49 PM PST
In the frenzy of the days and weeks leading up to Christmas, Salvation Army bell ringers and bands park themselves outside of stores and shops - encouraging people to fill those famous red kettles.

But while some have been feeding them with bills and coins, many have not. A lot of folks are walking right by this year, and it has taken a toll on the totals.

"We have been significantly down," explained Major Bruce Smith.

Collections have dropped 15 percent over last year. A year ago, the Durham campaign brought in about $79,000. This year it's closer to $65,000.

Smith attributes the drop to the poor economy, recent bad weather, and more people shopping online. And, he's worried that lower numbers could mean less help for people who need a helping hand.

"That's our main concern. Can we maintain the level of service that we've been offering for the last couple of years?" he asked.

Smith says the good news is that donations by mail have held steady. But the kettle drive is one of the Salvation Army's major fundraisers, so what they bring in is more than a drop in a bucket when it comes to what they can do for the community.

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