The Salvation Army launches its Christmas Campaign today with an ambitious goal to meet what it calls a "staggering" increase in requests for help.
The goal for what is commonly called the "red kettle" campaign is $1.7 million, up $300,000 from last year.
It will kick off with the lighting of the giant kettle on top of the Gander Mountain parking garage at Wichita and Dewey streets downtown at 6 p.m. today.
"We know it's going to be a big challenge for us," Salvation Army spokesman Tim Brown said. "We have so many more people coming to us asking for help, we really need to increase those numbers."
The campaign's theme, "Mission of Hope," is intended to offer encouragement for those in need, he said.
"What we worry about is whether we're going to be able to help everybody," he said.
People who used to donate to the campaign are now coming in and asking for help.
"It's humiliating for them," Brown said. "It's hard. It's frustrating."
Many have work, but earn a fraction of what they used to make in previous jobs. That will make it hard for them to donate to charities, too.
"This is going to be very difficult for a lot of people," Brown said. "It's going to be a difficult year for the community."
The campaign will use direct mail solicitations as well as the kettles.
Volunteers are needed along with donations. People wanting to volunteer can call 316-425-6135.