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Drop in Donations Worries Salvation Army

December 20, 2018
Raising money for the Salvation Army outside the Stadium Plaza Market Basket last week were from left, Advisory Board member Linda Clark, Salvation Army Capt. Tim Ross, Advisory Board Chairman Thomas Bomil, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Rep. David Nangle. COURTESY PHOTO Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

LOWELL -- The Salvation Army Massachusetts Division made an urgent plea Wednesday morning for help, citing a 20 percent drop in red kettle donations in certain parts of the state compared to last year.

The drop is happening in half of its locations across Massachusetts, according to the organization, calling it a “potential crisis situation” at a time when the number of people in need is expected to be at or near record levels.

“Every day at Corp offices in all parts of the commonwealth we are reminded that many individuals and families are struggling just for the basic necessities,” Maj. Gregory Hartshorn, general secretary of The Salvation Army Massachusetts Division, said in a statement. “With just a week to go in the 2018 Red Kettle Campaign, we desperately need the public’s help so we can meet the anticipated need for 2019.”

The Salvation Army has set a $3.5 million fundraising goal for the campaign, and funding shortages may threaten feeding and emergency assistance programs. In 2017, the organization provided more than 3.1 million meals to people in need across the state -- a 26 percent increase from the previous year -- and assisted more than 447,000 families with holiday toys and clothing.

While other areas, especially Central Massachusetts, are experiencing decreases, Greater Lowell is seeing strong fundraising.

According to Thomas Bomil, a prolific bellringer and chairman of the Salvation Army of Greater Lowell Advisory Board, response in this area has been up.

“I am seeing more $5s, $10s and $20s than years before,” Bomil said. “I am also seeing more drop something in, whether it’s a dollar or small change.”

Capt. Timothy Ross said the Salvation Army of Greater Lowell was at about 86 percent of its $140,000 red kettle campaign goal as of Tuesday.

Ross said the local chapter is on track to reach its goal over the next five days. The last week of the campaign is often when the most donations come in, with more people out Christmas shopping and getting ready for the holiday, he said.

Ross thanked the local community for its generosity, from the volunteers to the companies that allow the Salvation Army to ring bells outside their doors, and those who contributed to the recent successful Radiothon on WCAP.

“We’re thankful for the people who continue to support the Salvation Army, and we look forward to continuing to serve those in need for all of 2019,” he said.

Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.

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