Jimmy Wayne Jennings of Kingsport rings the Salvation Army Bell in front of Wal-Mart on Stone Drive Friday. Jennings, who spent four years at the Salvation Army’s orphanage in Detroit, said he gives his time to the Salvation Army whenever he can. Erica Yoon photo.
KINGSPORT — The Salvation Army’s annual Kettle Campaign draws to a close today — and short a Christmas miracle of sorts, the fund-raising effort will fall thousands of dollars short of its $106,000 goal.
That goal mirrors what was raised during last year’s campaign, said Capt. Brian West of the Salvation Army’s Kingsport location.
Funds raised through the Kettle Campaign — shoppers toss money into red kettles manned by bell ringers at business entrances — help pay for basic programs offered year-round by the Salvation Army, including providing food, shelter and clothing to those in need.
“It’s a vital part of our budget,” West said Friday afternoon. “And we’re down about $20,000 below our goal at this point. This money helps get us through the year. It feeds people. It clothes people. It shelters people. We use it to help people with their utility bills. We use it when someone gets an eviction notice.”
West said this year’s Kettle Campaign got under way for the Kingsport area on Nov. 15 and has averaged about 20 bell-ringer locations per day.
That counts two locations at each Super Wal-Mart in the city, West said, because there’s a bell ringer and kettle at two entrances at each store.
“We’ve had a lot of good groups ringing for us this year,” West said.
But some of what have in the past proved to be key fund-raising locations were not available this year, West said.
West said he was unable to secure three spots at the Fort Henry Mall where bell ringers manned kettles last year.
“Belk has let us stand,” West said. “But that’s been our only location at the mall this year.”