While the bell-ringing came up short, alarm bells are not going off at Independence’s Salvation Army headquarters.
The Red Kettle Campaign, the Salvation Army’s annual holiday fund-raiser and biggest event of the year, raised $182,000, well below the goal of $211,000. And while that will lead to some belt-tightening, it isn’t expected to have a drastic effect on its services in Eastern Jackson County.
They believe the community won’t let that happen.
“We’re confident as people hear that we were short on our goal, they’ll help us during the year,” said Major Brian Burkett, the director for the Salvation Army’s facility on Truman Road in Independence. “A lot of times folks will help us in January and February if they know we didn’t meet our goal, because the work we do is just so vital to this area.”
This year’s Red Kettle Campaign began the last week of November and ran through Christmas Eve with kettles and bell-ringing volunteers in 35 locations over Eastern Jackson County. Most years, Burkett said, the organization reaches its goal. This year, he said, offered some unique challenges, including a shorter holiday season.
“We’ve been fortunate over the past 10 years to be at or around our goal,” Burkett said. “This is just one of those odd years where we started a little bit later than normal and had a few kind of weird weather days in there, too.”
The money the bell-ringers raise all stays in Eastern Jackson County and accounts for 25 percent of the Independence facility’s budget. It’s a big chunk of the money used to operate programs like the Pantry Assistance and the Breadline, which collects day-old bread donations from local retailers and distributes it at the facility. It also funds GED classes and the Crossroads Shelter, a 62-bed facility that is the only family homeless shelter in Eastern Jackson County.
“We budget for that total, so it’s one of those things where we have to go back and try to cut some dollars to make it throughout the year,” Burkett said. “We’ll just have to go back and see if there’s some areas where we can save some dollars.”
Burkett said he will meet with the advisory council about budget cuts, but he’s confident they can be kept to a minimum. The Eastern Jackson County community has come through before when his facility needed money, and he expects it to come through again.
“I think people know that the Salvation Army has an important part in this community in making a difference,” Burkett said. “These are our neighbors who are helping, and I think people have a great heart and they want to help us help others. We have this heritage of helping people, and we have a lot of supporters who are in our corner.”
Burkett said anyone wishing to help can bring a check to their headquarters on Truman Road or make a donation over the phone by calling 816-252-3200. Donations can also be made online by visiting salvationarmyusa.org.
And just like the red kettles, Burkett said every dollar raised will help area residents in need.
“We just continue to trust God has called us to do what we’re doing and God will allow us to make the funds we need,” Burkett said.