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Salvation Army says it needs more volunteers for red kettle campaign

Nick Harris

The Salvation Army's annual red kettle campaign is in full swing, but the non-profit is concerned that it might not be able to reach this year's fundraising goal.

According to Maj. Donald Hostetler, division commander of the Empire State Division of the Salvation Army, this year's holiday season goal might be harder to achieve than in year's past. That's because there aren't enough volunteers willing to bundle up and staff kettles to collect donations.

"I'm hearing from every location that recruitment of volunteers has been more challenging this year than it has been in the last two or three," Hostetler said. "So that's not, there's no regional distinctive on the recruitment of volunteers. That's universal across the board."

He says this year the organization set a goal of $3.8 million in upstate New York, including $750,000 in central New York. But the current day-to-day amounts the group is collecting are lower than they were last year, when the Salvation Army raised $3.5 million during the season.

"When a kettle is left unstaffed, that means we lose those collections," Hostetler explained. "And there is no way of going back and getting them after the fact. It is a 35 day scenario and when we lose those opportunities, they're gone."

Hostetler says shoppers are also carrying less cash when they go out. To attract more donations and younger donors, the Salvation Army has turned to the Internet to raise funds.

"A number of folks have adopted an online red kettle, where they solicit friends, neighbors, family members to give to their own kettle that they set up online," Hostetler said.

There is also the option to donate by text, and the Salvation Army is using Facebook and Twitter to promote donating and volunteering, which Hostetler says targets younger generations who do more of their holiday shopping without leaving home.