The familiar Salvation Army Red Kettle bell ringing outside stores is growing more urgent. There are about 30 Red Kettles in the Shreveport-Bossier area and donations are down by 23 percent this year over last, according to Commanding Officer Major David Craddock.
“A lot of it has to do with the economy. People just aren’t sure. People aren’t spending. This year, too, Thanksgiving came on the latest day in November it can. So we had at least one week less of kettle time this year," Craddock said.
But Craddock will have a better grasp of the numbers once the malls and stores close and kettles come in on Christmas Eve. That’s the final day of bell ringing. Meanwhile, he said, his staff is working long days in preparation to hand out food gift cards to 1,500 families and give 6,000 children a Christmas as part of its Angel Tree program. He says that’s an enormous undertaking, and it’s the money dropped into the red kettles that makes so much of it possible.
“We’re all tired. We get giddy. We get crazy. But when we see the families getting the toys and the food and all, that makes it all worthwhile," Craddock said.
Last year, Craddock said the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign in Shreveport-Bossier raised about $192,000 and all the money stays in the community. Craddock seeks additional volunteers who can help organize toys at the warehouse ahead of next week’s massive toy distribution.