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Salvation Army bounces back in meeting goals, thanks to community’s response

Dewey Thompson, of Butler, rings a bell in November for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign at Save A Lot at Pullman Square in Butler. The Salvation Army in Butler County raised an estimated 90% or slightly more of its $90,000 goal. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

The Salvation Army in Butler County raised an estimated 90% to 92% of its $90,000 goal for the county during this past season’s Red Kettle campaign, said Major Darlene Means of the Salvation Army’s Butler Corps on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

The final push for donations came into the new year as the Salvation Army remained about $15,000 short of its goal in late December.

Means said donations that came in afterward by mail in January helped “a good bit” toward the goal.

In December, Means said a severe winter storm prevented outdoor donations on Dec. 23 and 24, which are the two biggest dates for donations. That coupled with inflation, she said, might have led to a decrease in donations.

But once word reached donors that the organization needed additional help to make up for the decline in donations, the community responded with great energy, Means said.

She said Tuesday she didn’t have an exact dollar amount of donations received because she is awaiting details about electronic donations and other final figures from the Salvation Army’s Western Pennsylvania headquarters.

But the community’s generosity generated a response from Butler residents who received help from the Salvation Army, Means said.

“There was a gentleman that had come in that needed assistance with sewage (bills), and he wasn’t sure where he was going to find the money, because in the city of Butler, if you don’t pay your sewage, your water gets shut off,” Means said. “And he was very grateful for that, because we went ahead and paid his sewage bill for him. So his water didn’t get shut off.”

She said the Salvation Army is the only agency in the city of Butler that helps with sewage bills.

In addition to utilities, donations go toward feeding programs, rental assistance, spiritual programs, after-school youth empowerment programs and other charitable work.

Means said the high proportion of donations likely came from older people, many of whom might feel less comfortable placing donations online. Donations often included handwritten checks and donations from organized groups, she said.

Participation in the Angel Tree tags program also proved greater than usual, with both requesting children/seniors and donors providing higher turnout.

This program draws on donations to connect children younger than 12 and seniors 60 or older with Christmas gifts. Coordinators hang tags from trees in indoor venues, often shopping malls, and each tag offers details that donors can use to answer requests for toys.

“We had a very good turnout with people wanting names,” Means said. “Like Walmart, we had to fill the tree three times this year. We had a couple of new groups wanting to adopt the Angel Tree tags, so we had a very good reception of the people here in Butler to help.”

Means said that while Red Kettle donation sites at supermarkets and other stores closed Dec. 31, the Salvation Army welcomes donations year-round. Contributors still can donate by mailing donations or donating in person at 313 W. Cunningham St., Butler, PA 16001. They also can donate online by visiting the Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division at!/donation/checkout.

“We’re here to help, and people might call here because there are service units in Butler County, besides the main office,” Means said. “So if there’s somebody in Butler County, they can always call the office and we can direct them to the right location.”

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