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Salvation Army donations lag in Western Pennsylvania

| Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 5:11 a.m.

The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division said on Wednesday that its Red Christmas Kettle Campaign is running $307,000 behind its 2012 pace.

That's despite reduced goals for this year's campaign, from $2.8 million to $2.73 million across the 28-county region and from $785,000 to $687,500 in Allegheny County.

The division said 35 of 39 worship and service centers are behind, including those in Braddock, McKeesport and Steel Valley/Homestead as well as nearby centers in Greensburg, Jeannette and Monessen.

On one hand, many kettles weren't set out before Thanksgiving.

“Most kettle campaigns aren't out in full force until Thanksgiving week,” said division commander Major William H. Bode.

The Salvation Army is looking at the same calendar as are retailers.

“Since the holiday fell on Nov. 28 this year, that means we have a start six days later than last year,” Bode said. “This season is the latest it's been since 2002 and it means far fewer days to raise money.”

Officials of local centers could not be reached for comment at presstime. This year's goals are $85,000 in Braddock, $80,000 in Greensburg, $66,000 in Monessen, $65,000 in Jeannette, $60,000 in Homestead and $49,000 in McKeesport.

Last year, Braddock and Jeannette exceeded their goals, but McKeesport, Steel Valley, Greensburg and Monessen did not.

“It is important for our donors to understand that our fundraising is segmented,” Bode said. “That means that money raised within that community stays there to support its own residents.”

That includes money collected by local Salvation Army service units not connected to worship centers.

Irwin and Manor have such units, with Irwin covering most of North Huntingdon Township and Manor covering the township's Westmoreland City area.

Elizabeth area churches have a “bell-less” campaign to raise money for the Army.

Along with approximately 135-150 kettles already out across Allegheny County and more in other counties, The Salvation Army takes donations at OnlineRedKettle.org.

Additionally, the Army asked for “volunteers of all kinds” to donate sites for kettles and to ring bells there.

Allegheny County residents can contact Capt. Kimberly DeLong at the division headquarters, 412-446-1548.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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