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Salvation Army misses kettle goal

| Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007

KITTANNING -- Although Salvation Army Capt. Cindy Fowles believes that Armstrong County people are still some of the most giving folks around, the local Salvation Army chapter fell a bit short of its anticipated Red Kettle Campaign goal this past holiday season.

"We did better than last year," Fowles said, "but this year our goal was higher and we fell about $900 short. Last year our goal was to collect $12,000 from our 'red kettles' and we collected $15,000. This year our goal was $16,000 and we received just a bit over $15,000."

The Western Pennsylvania Division of the Salvation Army released figures for the 2006 Red Kettle Campaign. The division, which represents 28 counties, announced that the kettle income was $2,297,605.26. Although the actual income fell about $25,000 short of the Salvation Army's goal of $2,323,500, overall income exceeded 2005 figures by more than $280,000.

Virginia Knor, the director of the Western Pennsylvania Division, said that although the kettle income was under goal, she was very pleased with the figures.

In the Kiski Valley outpost, which is an extension of the New Kensington operation, volunteers brought in $17,784.08 -- well over the goal of $16,000. The Kiski Valley outpost also improved its quota significantly from 2005, when it brought in $13,897.74.

Fowles said red kettles in the Kittanning area were set up outside the Foodland, Shop-N-Save and Wal-Mart stores in Hilltop Plaza and Franklin Village Mall.

"We started our campaign on Nov. 21 and the first several weeks were very slow. No doubt this contributed to our falling short of our goal. But the last two weeks were really good. We did not collect anything on the day before Christmas which was Sunday. That's the Lord's Day and we don't collect on Sunday. If we had an extra day, no doubt we would have made the goal."

Despite falling short on cash donations, Fowles said the Kittanning Salvation Army was able to help more than 100 needy families with food baskets, clothing, and toys for children.

"During our Project Bundle Up we gave new coats to 144 people and another 50 on our Give Away Day," she said. We continued our giving after the holidays. We had some extra food baskets left and we helped 10 families consisting of about 60 or more people. We also gave them 15 items of clothing per person from our clothing store."

Fowles said that the local Salvation Army needs to bolster its stock of canned goods for its food pantry.

"We really need canned goods,' she said. "We can use donations of peanut butter and canned fruits, vegetables and soups. We would like to start a soup kitchen, but first we have to do some renovations on our kitchen area to bring it up to code."

Fowles added that helping families with food items is not limited to the holidays. Families that find themselves in a tight spot may apply for help throughout the year.

"Depending on the size of the family they can receive either a chicken or a turkey," she said. "Last year the chickens we got were really big, some averaged eight pounds. We include a bag with peanut butter and canned goods and a voucher to buy bread, milk, eggs and butter. So we really help people the year around."

Pennsylvania has one of the highest elderly populations in the country, and that the elderly are on a fixed income and often seek help from the Salvation Army when they fall on hard times.

Fowles said that while the age range of most clients is from 18 through the 70s and 80s, of late, most people applying for help are in their late teens or early to mid 20s.

"I'd say about 40 percent of the people we helped lately are younger people," she said, "and a good percentage are either single or expectant mothers."

Fowles said canned food donations may be brought to the Salvation Army at 205 S. Jefferson St., Kittanning. For more information, call: 724-543-6622.

Melissa Capone of The Valley News Dispatch contributed to this story.

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