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Salvation Army's kettle campaign in the red so far

| Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 12:28 a.m.
Jasmine Goldband
Salvation Army volunteer Pamela K. Teeter, 51 of Ross Township rings a bell while collecting red kettle donations for the Salvation Army at the McIntyre Square Giant Eagle Thursday, November 29, 2012. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Jasmine Goldband
Salvation Army volunteer Pamela K. Teeter, 51 of Ross Township rings a bell while collecting red kettle donations for the Salvation Army at the McIntyre Square Giant Eagle Thursday, November 29, 2012. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Jasmine Goldband
A Giant Eagle shopper donates to the Salvation Army at the McIntyre Square Giant Eagle Thursday, November 29, 2012. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review

Black Friday didn't do enough to put the Salvation Army on track to meet its Christmas fundraising goals for Western Pennsylvania, officials said Thursday.

The iconic red kettle campaign is more than $91,000 behind last year's total at this time — a decline the divisional commander attributed to everything from tight budgets to nice weather.

“People are not in the spirit yet,” Maj. William H. Bode said.

But he thinks the main factor is likely a sluggish economy.

“People need to stretch their budgets,” Bode said. “Some people may not be able to give. Some who usually give a buck before might only give a quarter this year.”

Chicago-based ShopperTrak, which monitors retail foot traffic, estimates Black Friday retail sales decreased 1.8 percent from last year.

The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division's campaign goal is $2.8 million, and collections continue until Christmas Eve at about 500 locations in the area. The Allegheny County goal is $785,000.

The organization experienced a similar early slump last year, Bode said, but was able to surpass its $2.5 million goal after getting the word out that donations were down.

“We trust the public can step forward and help,” he said.

Proceeds from the red kettle campaign account for about 20 percent of the Salvation Army's annual budget, according to the organization. In Allegheny County, donations are down most in towns and neighborhoods such as Homewood, North Side, Mt. Lebanon and Homestead.

Pamela K. Teeter, 51, of Ross, one of thousands of volunteer bell ringers in Western Pennsylvania, said the generosity she's witnessed at the Giant Eagle off McKnight Road “has actually brought tears to my eyes.”

The first-year volunteer said while many people donate, not everyone can give as much as they'd like to.

“Some say they just have change and they're sorry they can't give more,” she said. “I tell them every little bit helps.”

Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or rweaver@tribweb.com.

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