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Kettle drive short on volunteers and donations

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- The ringing of a Salvation Army Red Kettle bell is a sound that's almost become a part of the holiday season.

This year though, the organization says more of its kettles are being left without ringers and donations are down.

The Salvation Army in Eau Claire says it started out with a goal of raising $150,000 this year with its red kettle campaign.

At last count they say they have only made about 30% of their goal with a deadline of Christmas Eve.
“Last Tuesday was the 12 below deal so the wind was blowing through the doors and it was not pleasant,” He explained as he rang his bell at the Mega Foods East store in Eau Claire.

The cold start to this winter has meant bell ringers like John Lindiud have had to put on a few extra layers.

Despite the chilly temps John and the rest of the members with the Eau Claire Kiwanis Club make sure that someone is at the station so the donations can keep rolling in.

“We all sign up for when we can do it and if not enough people sign up, someone has to sign up a second time,” Lindud explained.

It’s a different story at other places around Eau Claire. Places where red kettles should be hanging and bells should be ringing are left silent and empty.

“This year we are down in volunteers a little bit and it might be due to the weather. We have shifts that are filling up but we haven't had the donations come in like we had last year. We are at about 33% of our goal this year,” Salvation Army volunteer coordinator Suzanne Swanigan said.

Swanigan says a later Thanksgiving meant a shorter holiday season - and that also means the red kettle campaign has less time to bring in donations. Plus she says the cold snap we felt last week didn’t help but a turn in temperatures this week might help keep volunteers at the kettles.

“It's a lot warmer you can go in groups or you can go with your entire family,” she said.

With only seven days left until the bells stop ringing for the season, The Salvation Army is hoping to make every hour left count.

“We are just looking for more people to make this weekend as big as possible,” Swanigan said.

The Salvation Army says if you are interested in signing up to be a bell ringer, you can go to their website to view available times and locations. We have that information under Related Links.

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