With Christmas music by a brass quintet getting attendees in the holiday mood, Topeka Salvation Army officials on Monday morning kicked off the organization’s 2017 Red Kettle Campaign with a goal of raising $341,000 in the next six weeks.
Maj. Brian Burkett, corps commander of the Topeka Salvation Army, said the fundraising effort already has begun with donations accepted at the Salvation Army Citadel, 1320 S.E. 6th, where Monday morning’s outdoor kickoff ceremony was held.
The fundraising goal includes $195,000 in red kettle contributions and $146,000 in other donations.
The Red Kettle Campaign will begin in earnest Nov. 22, when bell-ringers will begin accepting donations at 26 local businesses, including the city’s four Walmart locations, Hy-Vee, West Ridge Mall, Dillons stores, Walgreens, Sam’s Club, Hobby Lobby and LifeWay Christian Store. Some of the locations allow kettles at more than one door, bringing the total to 34.
He said churches, civic organizations and employee groups are welcome to sign up to ring the bells. Having bell locations covered is vital to the Salvation Army’s fundraising effort, Burkett said.
“It really does make a difference for us,” he said. “It is very rewarding to know that 90 cents of every dollar is going to direct service to help someone in our neighborhood.”
Funds will be used for Salvation Army services in Topeka, including a weeknight meal program, rent and utility assistance, and food baskets for families in need.
Burkett said in 2016 the Topeka Salvation Army served 23,000 meals, assisted more than 70 families with rent and utility assistance, and provided food baskets for more than 2,000 families.
John Stauffer, chairman of this year’s campaign, said he has been a longtime supporter and looks forward to seeing the organization reach its goal.
“I have strong feelings for the Salvation Army,” Stauffer said. “I think they do great work.”
Several Salvation Army board members in attendance at Monday morning’s ceremony got the campaign off to a good start by making donations in a red kettle that was placed near the “Tree of Lights,” which will be stationed on the southwest lawn of the organization’s East Topeka building during the holiday season.
For more information, call the Topeka Salvation Army at (785) 233-9648.
Contact Phil Anderson at (785) 295-1195 or follow live reports @Philreports on Twitter. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/philreports.tcj/.