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Salvation Army: Trending down

The red kettles at the entrance of local stores symbolizes the Salvation Army’s once-a-year winter holiday fundraiser. (Rivertowns photo by Phil Pfuehler.)

The good news is the local Salvation Army collected $22,000 from holiday shoppers during the month-long Red Kettle Campaign.

The bad news is the goal was $35,000 and collections have dropped the past few years--down, actually, by more than $10,000 from 2010.

“We’re certainly down from where we were, and that’s too bad,” said Ed Paulson, who’s supervised the Salvation Army’s major fundraiser in River Falls and Pierce County the last 20 years.

Unfortunately, Paulson suffered a seizure and was hospitalized at United Hospital in St. Paul in early December. He said his two-week absence meant less supervision for the complicated scheduling of the more than 300 bell-ringing volunteers.

“I had a lousy couple of weeks,” Paulson said about his medical problems and hospitalization. “Didn’t get as much done as I would have liked, though Robin Schrank stepped in and helped as much as she could.”

Paulson said there were a few gaps for bell ringers at Family Fresh and Dick’s grocery stores in River Falls that likely hurt. He also said with Thanksgiving falling in late November this year, there was one less weekend to collect.

Of the $22,000 collected in the red kettles so far, most came from River Falls. Ellsworth took in about $2,100 and Prescott $3,400.

Paulson hopes people still might consider one last contribution to the Salvation Army by mailing in a check.

“I want to give a big thank you and warm wishes to all who dropped change and cash in the kettles this year,” he said. “But we’re running behind and we need all the funds we can get.

“So if anyone still can find it in their heart to give again, or give for the first time, your donation provides for people around here with low or no incomes who need assistance paying their rent, heating and utility bills.

“Some money also goes for their food and clothing needs, and we also give emergency help for when a family loses everything in a house fire.”

Salvation Army donations can be mailed to Ed Paulson’s address, 627 N. Grove St., River Falls, WI  54022.

Said Paulson: “Sometimes we get a big check or two at the very end that really boosts the final total.”

Across the county, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the organization’s main source of operating income.