The bell ringers are out in Corvallis and Albany, but the Salvation Army is down thousands of dollars from where it was last year. The nonprofit relies on its red kettle donations to fund its programs for the entire year.
“Last year we grossed around $103,000. And I’m not even sure we’re up to $80,000 yet this year,” said Salvation Army Lieutenant Maureen Lawliss for Linn and Benton Counties.
Lawliss says on Dec. 6-7, a Friday and Saturday, Corvallis and Albany were covered in snow. Many shoppers stayed home, and the Salvation Army lost roughly $6,000 it usually would have received from two busy shopping days. But that does not include the rest of the week that kept shoppers off the icy roads.
Lawliss says she hopes residents in the area will be able to make up the difference before Christmas so the charity can continue serving people like Christina Sawyer, an Albany resident who depends on the monthly food boxes she gets from the Salvation Army.
“Programs like these save people like me,” Sawyer said. “I don’t have a lot of money and I have three kids to support.”
The Salvation Army helps community members with several programs, such as rent and utility assistance, and supplying food boxes.
“It means my kids are going to eat,” Sawyer said. “And that I’m going to be ok. It’s nice to have people like this in our community help us out.”
The non-profit says the dollar bills and coins that go into the red kettles around town stay in the community.
“It’s all local money,” Lawliss said. “It comes directly here. We count it and put it in our bank.”
Lawliss says there is something else that might be holding people back from donating.
“There have been rumors saying the Salvation Army is anti-gay,” she said. “That’s absolutely not true. It’s part of our international mission not to discriminate. We do not ask their sexual orientation when they walk through the door. We do not ask them if they are an alcoholic.”
Lawliss says the charity will help anyone who needs help. Regardless, the storm so far is what has taken a toll on the nonprofit’s donations. But the Salvation Army wasn’t the only charity that suffered during last week’s storm.
“This year, the weather killed our sales for a full week,” said the Vice President of the Mid-Valley Lion’s Club, Skipp Volkmann.
The Lion’s Club sells See’s Candies every year in the parking lot where Alberton’s used to be in Corvallis. Though the Lion’s Club is optimistic about selling out before Christmas, the Salvation Army has another problem.
“We’re trying to see if we can find volunteers to cover on Saturday,” Lawliss said.
The Salvation Army is so short on volunteers, it had to hire some people to ring the bells. If you are interested in volunteering on Saturday, Monday, or Tuesday for a few hours in Corvallis, call the Salvation Army’s office at: (541) 928-4774.