The iconic red kettles and ringing bells are back, as volunteers for the Salvation Army embark on the organization's annual Christmas fundraising campaign. Maj. Don Hostetler, commander of the Salvation Army's Empire State Division, says each year the kettles fill up with change and dollars, which go right back to helping those in the community.
"The donation actually has an impact, and the donor knows that," Hostetler said. "That this is going for something specific. It's going to help people, and so the kettle symbolizes charitable giving. It symbolizes ministry to people in need and people get a warm, fuzzy feeling when they put money in the kettle."
Because Thanksgiving is later in the month this year, Hostetler says that gives the group less time to ask for donations. But that hasn't stopped them from raising this year's fundraising goal.
"Last year, our kettle efforts across upstate New York raised more than $3.5 million," Hostetler said. "But this year, our objective is to raise $4 million in those Christmas kettles. The change mounts up and it has a significant impact on local operating budgets."
Hostetler says the Salvation Army is also introducing a mobile app to help people donate when they may not have cash or change in their pockets. Online donations are also accepted through the organization's website. Donations raised during the red kettle campaign will help provide meals, clothing and toys to families in need this holiday season.