Red Kettle donations are down in Eastern Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Red Kettle donations are down in Eastern Iowa

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Salvation Army leaders in Eastern Iowa report their holiday donations are down significantly. Waterloo has only met 62% of its goal. Dubuque officials say, as of last Thursday, they are only at 44% of their goal Cedar Rapids reported 45% so far, and in Iowa City, officials said they are at 59% of their 2010 goal.

They said cold temperatures means fewer volunteers, and some locations left vacant.

"From my end, it's all about the dollars," said Sue Hennings from Waterloo Cedar Falls.

With just ten more days before the kettles close, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Salvation Army needs to raise more than $200,000 to meet its goal. At this same time last year, they only had about $55,000 to go.

It's not that people have a scrooge-mentality. The truth is, whether it's through a kettle or a check, families don't have as much to give.

"If they were giving $100 last year, they're giving $50 this year," explained Hennings.

Whether you're dropping a couple pennies or a couple dollars into your neighborhood kettle, what you may not realize is the donations account for about a third of the Salvation Army's budget.

"35-40% of our income is based on what comes in the kettles," said Hennings.

The Salvation Army depends on this drive to fund their year-round community outreach programs.

"We collect money because we give it back to the community. So it's the community, in the long run, that will feel the pinch," Hennings noted.

But they are holding out hope that the Christmas spirit is still ringing in the Cedar Valley.

"I really believe that they're going to pull through. I really do believe there is a Santa Clause out there," Hennings added.

The slow year is being felt nationwide. The national Online Red Kettle is only at 20% of its $3 million goal. There is good news though. Generally, Christmas Eve is the biggest day for donations. That's also the last day you'll see bell ringers. Hennings is confident that someone will come with a big check and, essentially, save Christmas.

The national Red Kettle Campaign began more than 100 years ago. Last year, around 25,000 people volunteered as bell-ringers, and raised more than $139 million.

This year, the Salvation Army launched a new way to donate -- by texting. Send a message with the word "GIVE" to 85944, and $10 will go toward the Red Kettle Campaign.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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