Short Holiday Shopping Season A Challenge For Kent Co. Salvation Army

Posted at 6:36 PM, Dec 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-09 20:44:45-05

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — As the Salvation Army ramps up their fundraising campaign for the holidays, they are hoping to reach their goals within a shorter period of time.

With Thanksgiving falling so late in the month of November, leaders at the Salvation Army in Kent County say they have less time to get things done.

William Drisens is a bell ringer at  the Kmart on Plainfield Avenue.

“I always did enjoy the Christmas season,” said William. “I’ve  been ringing for the last ten years for Salvation Army.”

When William lost his job and was one of the 12 percent who were unemployed in Kent County, the Salvation Army gave him a job.

The organization helped him in other ways.

“(Salvation Army) helped me by getting some vouchers for me for clothing and stuff like that,” said William.

As far as giving so far, Williams said it has been similar to other years.

The directors of the Salvation Army in Kent County say administrators are a little concerned that the late Thanksgiving has given them a shorter fundraising window.  They lost about six days and their goal is larger.

“Our goal is $1.75 million and right now the latest report from last week we’re down 25 percent from where we were last year,” said Major Bob Mueller, Kent County Coordinator of the Salvation Army.

The weather plays a role as well.

“We know that the snow brings on the Christmas spirit, and we tend to see the fundraising, at least at our kettles, rise and fall on the weather,” said William.

This is a list of all their fundraising goals for the past five years:

  • 2008 – $1,450,000
  • 2009 – $1,500,000
  • 2010 – $1,500,000
  • 2011 – $1,500,000
  • 2012 – $1,600,000
  • 2013 – $1,750,000

Mueller said they thought they had enough indicators early on in 2013 that they could raise the goal this year and meet it.

However, things are looking different now.

“This is what we call a faith goal, this is what we’re hoping with God’s help to make up the difference,” said Mueller.

As for Williams, he hopes people lend a hand although he says he’s not worried because West Michigan has a generous spirit.

There are a number of initiatives the Salvation Army might be doing in the Grand Rapids area including a matching gift campaign.

There will be one Saturday at the Woodland Mall, for every dollar spent, an anonymous donor will match it.