Salvation Army reports a successful fund raising season

Published 11:10 am Thursday, January 14, 2021

Area residents showed their support for The Salvation Army and its work in the community by exceeding the organization’s overall goal for Christmastime donations in 2020 despite the pandemic.

Even though the Red Kettle drive collected $76,781.56 of its $100,000 goal, unsolicited donations more than made up the difference, according to Army Lieutenant Lindsey Galabeas. “The overall goal was $170,200. This includes not only kettles and unsolicited donations, but also solicited donations through a mail appeal, and donations given through the internet. When everything was said and done, we raised $177,703.81 for this Christmas season. We feel so blessed that God has provided through the kindness and generosity of our Bluegrass community,” Galabeas said.

She said the Salvation Army budgeted to receive $50,000 in unsolicited donations but actually received $77,294.46.

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“With COVID, many of our regular volunteers were not able to ring due to safety concerns, and we understood their decisions, and certainly didn’t want to put vulnerable volunteers at risk. But that did mean less kettles were open on fewer days, lowering the potential we could make at the kettle.”

She added, “Many past volunteers and Salvation Army supporters mailed in checks to show their commitment to their community, rather than ring, and this act of kindness and generosity was so very appreciated, and helped us exceed our overall Christmas goal this year.”

Galabeas said they knew their traditional Christmastime fund raising efforts would be difficult in 2020. “The kettles is our largest public fundraising effort, and with many people shopping online this year, or simply picking up groceries, etc., and with people quarantining and staying healthy at home, we knew there was a potential that we wouldn’t meet our fundraising goals. We started early with our planning efforts for kettles to make sure we could host those during COVID in a safe manner, and keep our volunteers reasonably safe.”

Galabeas said not only were people financially generous, “We had some key volunteers who were generous with their time in helping us plan out how to keep our bell ringers safe, and how to communicate our need with the community. Without these key volunteers, I don’t believe our Christmas fundraising efforts would have been as successful.”

Other successful programs were the Angel Tree and Christmas Assistance programs, Galabeas said. “We were blown away again by the generosity of the community who donated thousands of toys and clothing items in order to provide Christmas for 166 families, representing 378 children. We were able to help children in each of our counties (Boyle, Casey, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer Counties), and worked with other agencies to ensure that we were not duplicating services.”

People also helped those programs by purchasing items on Walmart’s Registry for Good. “We were able to collect so many gifts — gifts that we could then designate to any child on the program. Between this and the help of individuals, companies, and organizations throughout our service area, we were able to ensure that every child had a wonderful Christmas.”

Also, some companies helped in ways they never had before, Galabeas said. For example, Burke’s Outlet not only displayed an Angel Tree, it also ran a toy drive. And other businesses or companies adopted angels or held toy drives, she said.

“We truly were blown away by the commitment to the Angel Tree during such a difficult year.”

Also, the Army’s Kroger fund raiser which helps provide gift cards to each family on the Angel Tree did better in 2020 than it did in 2019, she explained.

Galabeas said, “The Salvation Army anticipated the Angel Tree program being greatly affected by COVID, and it was, but not in the way anticipated. Instead of dampening and hindering efforts, they were doubled and tripled. We were able to do more!”

Galabeas said the Christmas fundraising represents only about 25% of the Salvation Army’s overall budget, so their plans to expand upon existing assistance programs will depend on other revenue throughout the year.

“While we were grateful to have met the goal for Christmas, and even to have exceeded it by about $7,500, we will still need to see our other funding coming through (mostly through private donations) before I can confidently say that everything we plan to fund will continue to be funded,” Galabeas said.

For example, after the pandemic subsides they hope to implement a program to focus on childhood literacy for students who attend their After School program.

The social services program will continue to support food pantries and utility assistance in Boyle, Lincoln, Casey, Garrard and Mercer counties. And, “We hope to really promote  a program we have called ‘Pathway to Hope.’ The idea of this program is to help families escape generational poverty and provide assistance and weekly case management as we help families overcome the benefits gap and move towards self-sustainability. We are prepared to walk with the families for quite some time, as long as the family is committed to the goal, and provide pastoral care for them in addition to financial assistance — a holistic approach to social services,” Galabeas explained.

She added, “We launched this program in May 2019 before my arrival, and between COVID and other barriers, we’ve had a hard time seeing this successfully off the ground, but it is a focus of ours in 2021.”

Galabeas said, “The Army’s mission is to meet human needs in Jesus’ name without discrimination.  The Salvation Army in this community could not do what we do without the assistance of the incredible supporters and volunteers who make a difference in the lives of those in need.  We are grateful and humbled by the generosity seen in 2020, especially, and give glory to God for His faithfulness through the hands and feet of His servants in this community.”