Bell ringers needed; kettle drive numbers down

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(WTAP) - Update: 12/20/2018

With just days to go before Christmas, the Red Kettle drive for the Parkersburg Salvation Army is still behind its 2018 goal.

Major Matt Riley tells us it's still $15,000 short, with just a few days before this year's campaign comes to an end.

Issues over the placement of kettles and closings of long-time stores where bell ringers were placed for years are among the reasons for the shortfall.

Major Riley adds volunteers are still needed to staff those kettles.

"Even though we started out $33,000 behind, even though I've been here two and a half years, and this is my third Christmas," Riley said Thursday, "I haven't had to ask the community to step it up. I don't want to deny people services because we don't have money."

Money raised in the Red Kettle Campaign keeps the Salvation Army running all year.

If you're interested in spreading holiday cheer while supporting a wonderful cause, The Salvation Army is still searching for bell ringers this season.

While their angel tree program is doing well, they say kettle drive numbers are down. The Parkersburg Salvation Army says their kettle drive numbers aren't as high as they were this time last year. They say it’s partially because they don't have enough workers to man all the locations.

Major Cathy Riley of the Parkersburg Salvation Army says, "It's been hard this year, keeping paid bell ringers. And the volunteers, we have as many volunteers as are willing to call in and we'll put them to work. But we're a little down in our bell ringing just because we haven't been able to man all our spots and some of the stores have chosen to move us a little further from the door which cuts down on donations as well."

Bell ringers outside of Kroger stores are noticeably further away from the front door than in years past. We reached out to Kroger for comment.

“We must find a balance between access for charities and customers’ concerns about solicitations. ” The statement goes on to say, “Kroger has a long-standing relationship with the Salvation Army, not only in allowing access to our customers but also in making donations directly to the Salvation Army. Granting the Red Kettle campaign access to our storefronts is one of several ways Kroger supports the mission of the Salvation Army. In addition this year, Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic Division is making it easier for customers and associates to contribute by collecting donations at registers in coin boxes at all 111 stores. All funds collected in the coin boxes will be given to the Salvation Army and will stay in the community where the money is raised to assist local families in need. Coin box collections for the Salvation Army begin December 9 and will continue through March 30.”

The Marietta Salvation Army says their kettle drive numbers are down about $10,000 compared to this time last year. They think it may be because some of their partners that let them stand outside the days leading up to Thanksgiving, didn't allow them this year.

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