America Responds Big to Salvation Army's Kettle Appeal

It was another record year for The Salvation Army and its Red Kettle campaign.

The Christian organization brought in $139 million in 2009, a seven percent increase from the previous year's kettle campaign, according to an announcement Tuesday.

"America is an incredibly generous nation and philanthropy is alive and well, despite the current economic conditions impacting so many," said Commissioner Israel L. Gaither, national commander of The Salvation Army. "We are grateful for every donor, volunteer and corporate partner for supporting The Salvation Army's mission by giving more than ever during a time when some have so little to give."

Red kettles were placed in an estimated 25,000 locations across the country. Donations were collected beginning Thanksgiving Day.

Along with traditional nickels and dimes donations, the organization also utilized the Web, iPhone apps and social networking sites to collect contributions that would help the needy.

Online donations in November and December totaled more than $11 million.

Major George Hood, national community relations secretary for The Salvation Army, said they are improving their digital outreach strategy to adapt to the changing ways of this generation.

"The Red Kettles have been a remarkable success for more than a century, and we are building on that for a new generation of donors," he commented.

Since the economy began slowing down in 2008, The Salvation Army has been experiencing higher demand for their services, including the provision of food and shelter. The organization was already serving more than 28 million Americans each year.

The record collection from the 2009 kettle campaign was happily welcomed amid greater need.

"Our local Corps units are reporting demand for social services that is more than 400 percent above normal in some cases," Gaither noted. "We needed help this year and Americans, as well as corporate partners responded in a big way."

The kettle fundraiser was launched in 1891 in San Francisco and has since grown to be one of the most recognizable and prominent charitable outreach efforts in the U.S.

The Salvation Army operates more than 7,000 centers, including community centers, medical facilities and service units. Last year the organization utilized the services of more than 3.4 million volunteers in serving 69 million meals, supplying 10 million lodgings and distributing 20 million items such as clothes and gifts.

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