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Weather, economy slow Salvation Army drive

Published: Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST
Caption
(Kyle Bursaw – kbursaw@shawmedia.com)
Dora Virginia May Utter Rodriguez, a bell-ringer for The Salvation Army, draws attention to the donation kettle while wishing shoppers a Merry Christmas recently outside of Walmart in DeKalb.

Every time Terri Abbot goes to the store, she tries to put money in The Salvation Army’s red kettle.

“I walk back and forth so I can make sure I get change or something and bring something to them to help,” the Cortland resident said.

The local Salvation Army has a battalion of 120 or so volunteers, plus 15 employees, ringing bells this season to capture the generosity of those like Abbot.

As of Thursday, the Salvation Army is about $8,000 short of its $70,000 goal with three days left in its annual drive, said Michael Cho, Salvation Army captain. Bell-ringers did not work Thursday because of the weather, but Cho expected they would be out today, Saturday and Monday.

After that, people still can donate to the kettle drive on The Salvation Army’s website, onlineredkettle.org, until Jan. 31.

Last year, The Salvation Army exceeded its goal and made $7,000 more than expected, Cho said.

All proceeds of the local drive fund programs in the county, including the food pantry that is open Monday through Thursday. The Salvation Army either has food donated or buys it with money that is collected through events like the kettle drive.

Tara Poole, 23, figured the economy was the reason people weren’t donating as much. She dropped money in the red kettle outside DeKalb’s Walmart on Wednesday.

“It kind of is disappointing to think that there’s going to be someone out there on Christmas that’s supposed to be jolly and happy and everything, and they might wake up Christmas morning with nothing,” Poole said. “If I can help out a little, I will.”

Some people who said they couldn’t afford to donate did anyway, bell-ringer Edward Hoover said. He’s been working as a bell-ringer for three weeks, and took the time Wednesday to greet each person who walked past him at Walmart. Some, he complimented on their attire.

Hoover also used to be a bell-ringer in Chicago when he was in the Big Brothers mentor program. When he moved to DeKalb two years ago, The Salvation Army helped him with the rough move.

Service groups volunteer mostly on the weekends. The Kishwaukee Sunrise Rotary Club, DeKalb Elks Lodge, DeKalb Kiwanis group, DeKalb Rotary Club, Kishwaukee Kiwanis Group, Sycamore Rotary Club, Sycamore Kiwanis Group, and a Brownie troop are all volunteering for the kettle drive.

Many people walking around Walmart have either been a bell-ringer or have family members who are, Hoover said.

“Everybody seems to always have their hats up, raise it and salute for The Salvation Army,” he said. “We’re just keeping on up for everybody else around.”

His job is about more than collecting money for The Salvation Army, said Cho.

“One of big responsibilities is to share Christmas spirit so [other people] create spirit,” Cho said. “Donating is completely up to the people.”

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