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Salvation Army Behind In Funding

The Salvation Army, who relies on donations to fund operations, is currently behind its holiday season funding goal. The Salvation Army held a 24-hour challenge to “boost” collections from Dec. 13 to Dec. 14 outside the Walmart in Lakewood. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

The Salvation Army relies on donations during the holiday season to fund its operations for the entire year. The current campaign, even after a 24-hour red kettle challenge over the weekend, is behind in reaching its goal of $117,000.

“We’re going to make sure that the community knows that we need help and that we’re that far behind,” said Maj. John Merchant of The Salvation Army. “We’ll make sure sure we have the kettles manned as much as possible. We have a lot of volunteers coming forward to help us out in the last five or six days.”

As of Wednesday, the Salvation Army has received about $58,000. According to Maj. John Merchant, the organization typically raises about $75,000 at this point in the year.

From Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. to Dec. 14 to 6 p.m., Salvation Army volunteers were present for 24 hours outside the the Walmart in Lakewood for a recent challenge. While efforts fell short, $1,550 was raised during that period. In addition, two donors gave $4,250 –combined –to the 24-hour challenge to benefit the current “Kettle Campaign.”

“It was a success,” Merchant said. “Currently, we’re just hoping we can gain some more money because we only have less than a week to raise $70,000.”

If the organization were to miss its goal of $117,000, the numerous support services it provides would be scaled back in some fashion. The money it collects stays local and supports those in need of assistance for utilities, medication, food and shelter, among others. Merchant noted that The Salvation Army has the largest food pantry in the county.

“We’d have to be careful what services we put all the money into,” Merchant said. “We help with utilities and rent. We might have to scale back. We would never shut down the services for food but all the other services we would dwindle down because we wouldn’t have the funds to do it.”

Last year, Merchant said several larger donations were submitted late into the holiday season. He hoped a similar scenario would take place this year.

“We received donations in the mail last year totaling about $25,000 in the last week which really picked us up and put us over the goal and that’s what we’re hoping for us this year. We hope the folks will rally again behind us and meet the goal we need.”

However, Merchant said another initiative, the Angel Tree Program, has met its quota for the year and will allow the organization to supply at least three toys to 893 children.

Merchant believes the monetary donations are “behind” because of the area lost local stores like Kmart and Sam’s Club where red kettles used to be positioned. Additionally, contracts with local Walmart stores and the Chautauqua Mall stipulate that The Salvation Army kettles can be placed in front of the store locations no earlier than Black Friday. Because the shopping-holiday was held Nov. 29, Merchant said The Salvation Army’s collections suffered. Last year, Thanksgiving was Nov. 22 and Black Friday was Nov. 23.

On average, The Salvation Army receives $200 to $300 from kettles at the mall and about $1,000 from both Walmart stores in Lakewood and Dunkirk combined each day. Individuals can also use Google pay or Apple pay to donate at each of the organization’s kettles. Other options include texting “JAMESTOWNKETTLE” to 4144, calling (800) 725-2769, donating online at salvationarmy.org/empireNY/jamestown, and sending a donation to 83 S. Main St., Jamestown, N.Y.

Despite the slow start, Merchant remained optimistic that the organization can still collect $117,000.

“It’s been a little bit of a tough year, but we still have a lot of hope that we still will make that goal,” he said.

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