Red Kettle Campaign donations down; volunteers crank up the bells

Red Kettle Campaign donations down; volunteers crank up the bells

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - It's the last big drive for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Drive. Right now, however, collections are down 10 percent from last year even though the goal is higher. But volunteers aren't slowing down in hopes of meeting their goals.

Friday was Windy Swetman's fifth Kettlethon event. And the bells were ringing despite the rain.

"I've been out here in the rain, the cold, the wind," he said. "It doesn't matter."

It's a long-term commitment for a long-term partner.

"As a first responder, my public service career has always been on the front lines and Salvation Army's always on the front lines."

And with help from his dad, he's never left without meeting his $5,000 goal.

"The Salvation Army is the most wonderful organization in the world," said Windy Swetman Sr. "It's not the only one, but it's the one we support, and to help everyone we can."

Volunteers with Trinity United Methodist Church ring the bell every year. For member Janice Keough, the reason is simple.

"Just seeing the smiles on people giving. It's so important," she said. "They all give because they want to give. And I think that's important."

But donations are down in a year that the goal is higher: $390,000. Bad weather is the big culprit.

"I believe the people in this community are going to step up and be able to help us not only to get through Christmas but to make that stretch for as long as we can to help people in this community," said Maj. Beth Sturdivant with the Salvation Army.

Meanwhile, Salvation Army officials said collections for the Angel Tree Drive are going well. In fact, 105 bicycles and toys were delivered Friday morning by Mississippi Power Company employees.

"It's one of the best things you can do for the holiday," said P.J. Wylie with the company's non-profit group, Community Connection. "They just give. All they do is give and that's what we like to be a part of."

And it is just part of a big wave of giving.

"I believe that it's much better than it was last year," Sturdivant said. "People just seem to just be bringing things in droves, which is wonderful. Which means that our families that signed up will have the best Christmas ever, I believe."

The Red Kettle Drive ends Dec. 23.

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