PORT RICHEY — Bells are ringing, but the Salvation Army annual red kettle drive so far is coming up a bit short on donations as the campaign enters the home stretch days before Christmas.
As of Wednesday, bell ringers for the Pasco Corps had collected about $13,000 less than last year’s contributions, local Salvation Army leaders report, in large part because of a shorter season.
However, they hope to make up the difference in the waning days of the campaign. Red kettle volunteers, standing in front of area stores, will wrap up the drive on Christmas Eve on Tuesday.
The 2012 event brought in about $223,000 for many charitable programs, which include the domestic violence shelter and the Center of Hope soup kitchen in Port Richey.
“We still have a few more days to ring kettle bells,” Maria C. Matheus remarked Wednesday as Pasco County Corps liaison.
The story is much the same with the Upper Pinellas corps of Salvation Army as volunteers scramble to collect enough funds to keep vital community programs going.
In 2012, Pinellas bell ringers raised $345,000 in the northern half of the county.
This year donations are down by about 9 percent, Lindsay Crossland, director of development, reported in a press release.
Kettle gifts stay in the community where the money is donated and help provide meals and shelter for families in need, Christmas toys for thousands of children locally, and many other services throughout the year, Crossland emphasized.
This year, because of a late Thanksgiving date, the kettle season is shorter by five vital days, Crossland pointed out, which equates to potentially $50,000 less than in previous years.
“With less than a week left to see our kettles at storefronts, we’re hoping that shoppers will think of their neighbors in need the next time they pass a Salvation Army bell ringer, and give what they can,” said Captain Zach Bell, commanding officer for The Salvation Army in Clearwater/Upper Pinellas County.
Besides red kettle contributions, people also can donate online.