The Minot Salvation Army red kettle campaign received a very timely and much needed boost this past week.
The Salvation Army's annual Christmas season donation appeal is the organization's major fund-raising endeavor each year. This season donations were running more than 25 percent below previous years of giving in North Dakota and Minnesota. The alarming decrease captured the attention of some affluent donors.
"Some Minnesotans with deep pockets set up a challenge, hoping to raise $2 million in two days in two states," said Captain Tim Nauta, Minot Salvation Army.
Minot was asked to match up to $25,000. Donors responded this past Friday and Saturday.
"We didn't have a problem here meeting that $25,000," said Nauta.
The $25,000 donated over a two-day period marked a sharp increase for Minot's red kettle drive. The previous high for one day this season was about $5,700. While the $25,000 effort, and the matching amount, gave the local fund drive a much needed boost, donations are still lagging behind previous years.
"Our overall goal is to raise $264,000. We were at $180,000 after this past weekend, still $84,000 to go and down from last year at this date," explained Nauta. "We enjoyed a huge boost of a gift that came out of the blue. I'd like to express thankfulness for phenomenal support here in Minot. North Dakotans are generous people."
Unlike many other cities, Minot's bell ringers that man the red kettles are all volunteers. According to Nauta, who had served the Salvation Army in five other cities before coming to Minot last year, other locales have had to pay for some bell ringers.
"Here the volunteers really set us apart," said Nauta. "What we receive in the kettles is a net amount. We're here every day of the year to meet human needs in God's name."
The Salvation Army helps qualifying individuals meet basic needs such as food, shelter, utility assistance throughout the year. The annual red kettle drive is the key to providing that assistance.
The final day for the red kettles is today, Christmas Eve, but fund-raising will continue through Jan. 15. According to Nauta, checks from appeal donations and other sources sometimes arrive at the end of the year or in early January.