Americans Give Record High Donations to Red Kettles

Following the outstanding online kettle collection from this year's virtual campaign, the Salvation Army released its traditional red kettle numbers, revealing a record high $107 million.

Exceeding last year's total by 4.9 percent, the collected funds will benefit more than 34 million needy individuals in thousands of communities nationwide. The record breaking amount is in addition to the generous contributions received for hurricane victims.

"Raising additional funds in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita demonstrates the compassion of Americans," said Major George Hood, National Community Relations Secretary for the Salvation Army, in a released statement. "We are grateful to all the contributors who opened their hearts to help their neighbors in need."

"When you consider the $336 million the American public donated to the Army during Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita, to be able to raise this record breaking amount in the aftermath of such disasters is truly extraordinary," said Stacey Wade of the Salvation Army.

Although pockets were emptied for what many say was America's worst disaster, the American public dug deeper to help those suffering on a daily basis. The locally raised funds will remain in the communities, supporting Christmas and year-round programs.

With the boosted aid of Wal-Mart inviting the bell ringers a couple weeks earlier than the national campaign kick-off during Thanksgiving, the Army attributed much of its success to the giant retailer along with other retail stores. Wal-Mart helped raise $26.7 million – a 58 percent increase over last year.

More than 20,000 volunteers rang bells this year. Although regional Army offices reported shortages of volunteer ringers, the evangelical organization still raked in a record sum.

The large success also holds true for the virtual kettle campaign where collections increased by 80 percent, according to the Army staff. A new program that expanded the kettles' presence online helped raise more than $100,000 nationwide.

"On-line donations are becoming an ever-increasing part of successful fund-raising," said Hood, "and we were eager to merge the Internet with our Red Kettle campaign to extend the reach of the Red Kettles and the Salvation Army."

Last year, Americans donated $102 million to the Salvation Army through the Red Kettle Christmas campaign.