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A $10,000 drop in the bucket: Red Kettle campaign gets big boost from anonymous donor in DL

Salvation Army bell ringers in Detroit Lakes began their Red Kettle holiday fundraising campaign the Monday before Thanksgiving. Local donations were lagging behind until a $10,000 check was dropped into the kettle at Central Market the week before last. (Paula Quam/Tribune)1 / 3
Salvation Army bell ringers in Detroit Lakes began their Red Kettle holiday fundraising campaign the Monday before Thanksgiving. Local donations were lagging behind until a $10,000 check was dropped into the kettle at Central Market the week before last. (Paula Quam/Tribune)2 / 3
Salvation Army bell ringers in Detroit Lakes began their Red Kettle holiday fundraising campaign the Monday before Thanksgiving. Local donations were lagging behind until a $10,000 check was dropped into the kettle at Central Market the week before last. (Amy Fish/Special to the Tribune)3 / 3

Like many communities across Minnesota and North Dakota, the Salvation Army's Red Kettle holiday fundraising campaign in Detroit Lakes was falling a bit behind its $40,000 goal — until a $10,000 check was dropped into the kettle at Central Market recently.

"That one donation of $10,000 has brought us back up to where we were hoping to be," said local campaign organizer Michele Baker, noting that by the time the campaign wrapped up on Christmas Eve, their total might exceed $45,000.

"We were over $40,000 yesterday," said Baker on Wednesday, "and that was before we'd pulled the late evening kettles. The rest of the week should bring in around the $2,000-$5,000 range, so we could end up getting over $45,000 this year."

Though the donor chose to remain anonymous, Baker said the $10,000 gift sent a wave of excitement through the ranks of local Salvation Army bell ringers, who began their campaign the Monday before Thanksgiving.

"You talk about jumping for joy," she said, noting that the volunteers who found the check while emptying out the kettles that day couldn't believe their eyes at first. "It's the largest single donation we've ever had."

Most importantly, all of the money raised locally is used locally, to help with Salvation Army emergency assistance efforts in each of its own counties.

"There's so much need, not just in our county but all over," Baker said. "It's nice to see that this community recognizes the need and is there to step up and give."

Overall, the Salvation Army's Red Kettle holiday fundraising campaign across Minnesota and North Dakota is lagging behind this year, possibly because frigid weather earlier this month kept people at home. As of Tuesday, Dec. 20, donations in Fargo-Moorhead totaled $328,000 toward a goal of $500,000, said Julie Rivenes, the Salvation Army's volunteer and public relations manager for the F-M area. That's part of a broader pattern of donations failing to keep up with last year's giving levels.

Donations to the Salvation Army's Christmas campaign from outstate Minnesota and across North Dakota total $4.5 million, $800,000 short of last year's $5.3 million, according to the charity. "I think the harsh weather has a lot to do with it," Rivenes said, adding that the Salvation Army doesn't want its volunteer bell ringers to risk frostbite. "We don't want anybody to be in danger." The Salvation Army is hoping that the shot of mild weather — and the human tendency for people to procrastinate but finally come through — will combine for a flourish at the end.

The Red Kettle drive officially ends at 2 p.m. Saturday, Christmas Eve, but donations can also be given online or via mail through Dec. 31.

"We would like to thank this community for their generosity, year after year," said Baker. "And the volunteers, we want them to know how much they're appreciated. We couldn't have a successful campaign without them."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454
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