Salvation Army says Red Kettle campaign still down

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WAUWATOSA (WITI) -- The Red Kettle Christmas Campaign in Milwaukee County is down $80,236 compared to this time last year, according to Major Dan Jennings, Salvation Army Divisional Commander for Wisconsin & Upper Michigan.

“We're just days away from putting the Red Kettles away until next year. We are concerned, but remain hopeful! We know the Milwaukee community is a giving and caring community," said Jennings. "Donations from the Red Kettle Christmas Campaign support critical year-round programming and services for families living in Milwaukee County."

Jennings says there were indications donations might be slow in 2013, however he says no one would have guessed that less than a week from Christmas, red kettle donations would be more than $80,000 short of last year's total.

"It's been a difficult season for many people so we're seeing more people come in. We knew we'd need more but we also knew it was a difficult economy," Jennings said. "What we raise during the Christmas campaign, we actually use the rest of the year. So this is money that will support all the programs the Salvation Army operates in the city of Milwaukee throughout the entire next year."

Jennings says holiday donations are a huge part of the following year's budget and a lack of funds could have an immediate impact on two programs in particular -- the food pantry and utility assistance.

"Those are two that are directly tied into the amount of funds that we have to spend on those items. We can only buy so much food, we can only pay so many utility bills. When the money runs out, we simply don't have it," said Jennings.

In Milwaukee County, The Salvation Army operates 85 programs.  Those programs and services include, but are not limited to, Christmas assistance, Christmas Family Feast, disaster relief, emergency housing, food and clothing, utility and rent assistance, employment services and summer lunch programs for children.

Eighty-four cents of every dollar donated supports Salvation Army year-round programs and services.

Bell ringers can be seen at the Red Kettles through Christmas Eve.

To make an on-line donation visit www.SAmilwaukee.org.