Salvation Army donations way down in Lake, Porter counties
BY AMY LAVALLEY Post-Tribune correspondent December 8, 2013 1:34PM
Salvation Army collections are way below the hoped-for amounts in Lake and Porter counties. | Post-Tribune File Photo
Mail donations to: The Salvation Army Lake County, 8225 Columbia Ave., Munster IN 46321
To volunteer, call (219) 398-2939 in East Chicago; (219) 887-6588 for Gary/Merrillville; and (219) 838-0380 for Hammond/Munster.
Mail donations to: The Salvation Army, Porter County Corps, 799 Capitol Road, Valparaiso IN 46385.
To volunteer, call (219) 762-9191 and ask for Nathan, or go to www.saportercounty.org.
Updated: December 8, 2013 5:24PM
Blame it on the lack of snow or a late Thanksgiving, which pushed the shopping — and giving — spirit to later in the season, but officials with the Salvation Army in Lake and Porter counties report giving is below where it should be for this time of year.
“Snow does have an effect. It’s funny,” said Capt. Becky Simmons, Lake County coordinator for the Salvation Army. “I think it puts them in the Christmas spirit.”
What’s not funny is the drop in Lake County donations. Simmons wonders if the non-profit ministry will reach this year’s goal of $940,000. Last year’s goal was $1 million.
Donations are down about a third from where they were last year at this time.
“We’re way down, and that’s after Thanksgiving weekend,” Simmons said.
Last year’s Porter County campaign fell a few thousand dollars short, said Maj. Jon Welch, adding the combined goal for the red kettles and a companion mail-in campaign is $280,000. But Porter County donations also are lagging — less than a third of the way to that total. Mail appeals have been particularly slow.
Most bell-ringers hit the streets in both counties on Nov. 8. Porter County has more locations this year than last, which Welch hopes will drive up donations. In Lake County, some bell-ringers started Nov. 15 and others didn’t start until Thanksgiving weekend, which may account for the donation drop.
Holiday fundraising is as critical to the Salvation Army for the rest of the year as gift shopping is for retail merchants. The agency receives nearly 70 percent of its yearly donations during its end-of-year campaign, according to a news release from the Lake County agency, and funds stay in the county where they’re raised.
While the kettle drive started at its usual time, a later Thanksgiving may have delayed the usual triggers for people to toss coins into the kettles, or mail in their donation forms.
“By now, you should be almost at half of your goal and we’re at 27 percent of our goal, and this is December,” Simmons said, noting the countdown to Christmas, which ends the brunt of the red kettle drive.
If it’s any consolation to the Salvation Army, the snow that arrived Sunday may be just enough to get coins clanging in those kettles.