Donations to red kettles in Lake County are down by 32 percent so far compared with this time last year and requests for food and assistance are greater than ever, The Salvation Army said.
The red kettles have been on streets and shopping centers since Nov. 8, with the goal of raising $940,000 to fund the emergency and social services provided by The Salvation Army during the holiday season and throughout the year.
Each holiday season, the Salvation Army in Lake County serves more than 11,000 people, providing more than 2,500 food baskets, 8,000 toys and more than 4,000 articles of clothing.
Volunteer bell ringers also are needed. Bell ringers are asked to ring bells for a two-hour shift of their choosing in front of Lake County's retailers.
Student and community groups are encouraged to donate volunteer time.
Red kettles will be on the streets through Christmas Eve, with a few remaining until Jan. 4.
The red kettles and bell ringers are an integral part of The Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign. The organization receives nearly 70 percent of its yearly donations during the campaign.
The funds are used not only to support Christmas programs and services, but to help The Salvation Army serve neighbors in need throughout the entire year. All funds raised will stay in the Lake County community.
The Lake County Salvation Army is also hosting the "I Double Dog Dare You" bell ringing challenge, which allows groups, families and individuals to volunteer as bell ringers the week of Dec. 16 to 21.
The top ringer from each of the three categories will be announced Christmas Eve and will receive special recognition at the annual spring volunteer luncheon. To sign up, contact Dale_Simmons@usc.salvationarmy.org.
Donations may be mailed to The Salvation Army Lake County, 8225 Columbia Ave, Munster, IN 46321. Call (219) 838-1328.
For more information on how to volunteer, contact The Salvation Army closest to you:
• East Chicago, 513 W. Chicago Ave., East Chicago, IN 46312, (219) 398-2939
• Gary-Merrillville, 4800 Harrison, Gary, IN 46408, (219) 887-6588
• Hammond-Munster, 8225 Columbia Ave, Munster, IN 46321, (219) 838-0380.