PORTLAND — After a sluggish start to its annual holiday donations drive, the Salvation Army of Greater Portland has surpassed its fundraising goal for the season.
The organization’s annual Red Kettle Christmas Campaign set an ambitious goal of raising $180,000 – a $40,000 increase over last year. Maj. Annette Lock said when the bell ringers went silent on the night of Dec. 24, they had exceeded their goal.
“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the community,” Lock said.
The kettle campaign raised more than $195,000 to provide services throughout 2016, including traditional ones, such as providing clothing and food to nearby communities in need, and new ones, such as an outreach program to help victims of human trafficking.
Lock said the money will “help people right here in this community throughout the year.”
She said the Salvation Army, at 297 Cumberland Ave., was able to consistently get the word out to the public about the campaign, in part thanks to media coverage. She said the letting the public know how the campaign was going and what needs remained made a difference.
“We were also not hindered by the weather,” Lock said, adding that warmer temperatures allowed more people to be out shopping and allowed the organization to keep its bell ringers active. She said no kettle days were lost this year.
Last year, two early winter storms provided challenges to the campaign, including one storm the night before Thanksgiving that kept people off the streets on Black Friday.
The campaign began earlier than usual this year, in the weeks preceding Thanksgiving. Traditionally it has begun the weekend after Thanksgiving. Lock said because of agreements with businesses, bell ringers could only set up at a few locations until after Thanksgiving. She said from then on, there was “heavy coverage” across greater Portland every day except Sundays.
Lock also credited a diverse group of volunteers for the kettle campaign’s success, saying volunteers from “so many sectors of the community” came to help.
She said the organization’s annual Christmas clothing and toy donation drive was also successful. The drive was able to provide items for close to 1,000 families toys for nearly 2,000 children in the area. She said a coat donation drive will continue throughout the winter.
“(Donations) started slow in the beginning of the season,” Lock said. “But it definitely picked up all the way around.”
The organization’s annual Thanksgiving food drive was smaller than in years past, with fewer donations coming in and fewer families served as a result. But Lock said the Christmas drive saw higher numbers, as toys came in right up until the deadline, and coats are still coming in.
“We’re very relieved and extremely grateful,” Lock said.
The Salvation Army at 297 Cumberland Ave., Portland.