Red kettles not as full this year

Two days before the bells stop ringing and the red kettles go back into storage, the Salvation Army's annual Christmas campaign for Sedgwick County was running about 22 percent — or $300,000 — behind this time last year.

By late Tuesday afternoon, a little more than $1 million had been collected for the campaign, said Tim Brown, the organization's local director of development.

That puts the campaign well short of its goal of $1.7 million. Brown said the campaign runs through January, but usually only a few thousand dollars are collected after Christmas.

"So we're getting a little worried," he said.

The kettles, which will be picked up Christmas Eve, generally account for about a fourth of the campaign's donations.

Brown said the down economy was the biggest factor in donation decline.

"We've a had a lot of people this year who have volunteered to help, probably because they didn't have the money to give," he said.

Last year's campaign was a record-setting $1.673 million and exceeded the goal of $1.4 million.

"That's why we set a higher goal this year," Brown said. "We knew it was going to be a challenging goal, and that's the case."

He said the campaign helps fund all of the Salvation Army's programs, not just those during the Christmas season.

After January, Brown said, the organization will take a look at what was raised.

"We might have to cut programs and services," he said. "Hopefully, we won't have to cut any staff."

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