Loss of Kmart hurts Red Kettle campaign
There's good news and bad news when it comes to this year's Becker County Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign.
The bad news is the campaign didn't meet its $40,000 goal.
The good news is it did raise about $36,000, and that's better than a lot of county campaigns did this year in the region.
"Given the reports I'm getting from other counties, $36,000 is pretty good, because a lot of counties are down," said Becker County Red Kettle Campaign organizer Michele Baker.
Locally, the loss of Kmart hurt the fundraising effort, she said. "Kmart was shopped pretty well—we did well out there," she said.
That means the campaign is down to three locations in Detroit Lakes: Kettles were staffed this year by volunteers at Central Market, the Washington Square Mall and L&M Fleet in Detroit Lakes. Menards and Walmart won't allow bell-ringers inside their buildings, Baker said.
The growing popularity of online shopping may also play a role in decreased donations, she said.
Money raised through the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign is spent locally throughout the year. "We're the last resort for emergency funding," Baker said. Some is spent on gas vouchers or lodging for stranded motorists, other funds go for emergency heating assistance or cold-weather emergencies.
And the red kettles pay for simple, but important, special projects throughout the year, like stocking the shelves at the Becker County Food Pantry with diapers and wipes; the Back to School Project, which provides school supplies for children in Becker County schools that don't have the necessary supplies; the Winter Gear project, which provided the county's less fortunate families with jackets, boots and mittens; and the Nursing Home project, which provides area nursing home residents with a special gift at Christmas time.
Usually, local needs consume the Red Kettle dollars, but if anything is left over at the end of the fiscal year, it goes to regional needs, like spring flood relief in the Red River Valley, she said.
"Thank you to the community for all their support," Baker said. "And thank you to to our volunteers—we do much better when we have a ringer at the kettle. We couldn't have had a successful year without them."