Salvation Army hoping to ring up donations on final day - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Salvation Army hoping to ring up donations on final day

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Dick Panosh volunteers as a Salvation Army bell ringer 15 to 20 times per year.

"You meet a lot of nice people," said Panosh. "You see the good stuff coming out of it."

Being able to keep "Doing the Most Good" is at risk, however.

In Linn County, the Salvation Army has only reached around 70 percent of its $750,000 goal -- down $52,000 from this point last year.

"We'll have to really sit down with our advisory board and our staff and look at our budget and see where we can make some changes in what we're going to be offering throughout the year," said Lia Pontarelli with the Salvation Army. 

It's a similar story across Iowa. The Waterloo/Cedar Falls Salvation Army is at almost 80 percent of its goal, though still down from last year. 

Most recent numbers for Dubuque and Iowa City had those organizations only hitting about 56 percent of the target, but don't include weekend numbers. 

Officials say it's likely because Thanksgiving was so late this year, among other challenges.

For example, many people don't carry cash anymore, leaving the groups trying to find creative ways to get donations -- like adding QR codes to kettles so people can donate from their phones.

Red kettle season accounts for 40 percent of the Salvation Army's annual budget.

"It's going to be helping us feed families in June and July and paying rent and utility assistance in August and September," said Pontarelli.

Officials hope for a last-minute increase, and Panosh is already ringing up more donations as the last of the shoppers head out for last-minute buys.

Bell ringing ends Christmas Eve -- though the Salvation Army notes it will take donations any time.

To donate to the Salvation Army of Cedar Rapids, click here.

To donate to the Salvation Army in Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Dubuque, or Iowa City, click here.
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