Donations to red kettles in Lake County are down by 30 percent so far compared with this time last year, while the need for food and assistance are greater than ever, The Salvation Army reports.
The iconic red kettles have been on streets and at shopping centers since Nov. 8. The goal was to raise $940,000 to fund the emergency and social services provided by The Salvation Army during the holiday season and throughout the year.
So far, Lake County residents have given $410,000 to the local Red Kettle campaign. Of that total, more than $312,000 has been dropped in the kettles. The remainder has been donated through the mail and online.
Each holiday season, The Salvation Army in Lake County serves more than 11,000 people, provides more than 2,500 food baskets, 8,000 toys and more than 4,000 articles of clothing.
With Thanksgiving falling later in November, leaving one less week between it and Christmas, The Salvation Army is asking Lake County communities to help it make up for lost time. The agency wants to prevent having to make any cuts to the critical social services in the year ahead.
“We have seen a significant increase this year in the number of people turning to The Salvation Army for assistance, particularly as a result of families struggling with decreases in federal assistance benefits for food,” said Capt. Rebecca Simmons, Salvation Army Lake County coordinator.
“All across the community, we see evidence of our neighbors in need. While the economy is slowly showing signs of improvement, that recovery has yet to trickle down to low-income families who are suffering the most.”
Tom DeGiulio, Salvation Army Advisory Board chairman and Munster town manager, said he is proud of the generosity shown by Lake County residents every year.
"We had anticipated that this would be a difficult year because of the shorter holiday season, but I know that we’re a community of people who care deeply about their neighbors in need, so I ask my fellow Lake County residents to join forces with me and give whatever you can to the red kettles.”
Red kettles will be on the streets through Christmas Eve, with a few remaining until January.
The Salvation Army receives nearly 70 percent of its yearly donations during the Red Kettle Campaign. The funds are used not only to support Christmas programs and services, but to help The Salvation Army serve Lake County neighbors in need throughout the year.