More people relying on Salvation Army red kettlesby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Salvation Army is finishing up its holiday fundraising campaign and trying to reach its goal of $11.4 million.
The number of people relying on the Salvation Army increased by 35 percent in the last year, said spokeswoman Annette Bauer.
"If we don't raise that, we really have to decide whether we need to curtail some of the services we provide, because we've seen increases in pretty much every area," Bauer said. "We went from 68,000 people that we served in the food shelf and that bumped up to 77,000. We had 100,000 more hot meals, 40,000 more nights of lodging."
About a third of the donations are expected to come in through the organization's red kettle campaign. Money is also being collected online and through the mail.
The Salvation Army raises money year-round but holiday fundraising accounts for about 40 percent of the charity's budget, Bauer said.
The organization brings out the red kettles only during the holidays, Bauer said, but has made a few exceptions, such as after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"We believe it's really part of the Christmas tradition, and we want to keep it that way, she said. "We don't want to do this so often that people get tired of it, that it's not special."
About a quarter of annual charitable giving happens between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, says a study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.