PLATTSBURGH - The Salvation Army of Plattsburgh kicked off its annual Red Kettle Campaign during a press conference at Champlain Centre Nov. 12.
Capt. Laurence Goodman, director of the local Salvation Army chapter, said bellringers will now be out in force throughout the region accepting donations towards the Christian-based nonprofit organization. The donations received will help further the Salvation Army's work locally of offering outreach services in Clinton and Essex counties which include emergency housing, clothing, food, prescriptions and fuel. The funding will also help offer educational, recreational and spiritual programs for young children and teenagers.
Goodman said taking into account the recent announcement by pharmaceutical manufacture Pfizer Inc. to close it facilities in Clinton County by mid-2011, in addition to an already uncertain national economy, the need is greater than ever. However, he added he's optimistic if people fall on hard times, the Salvation Army will be there to help.
"Last year, we had a roughly 22 percent increase in requests for services," said Goodman. "We met the request and that's solely because of our kettle campaigns and generous donations."
Goodman said he feels the organization is already off to a good start following the receipt of a grant from Target this summer. The grant provided $30,000 to the local Salvation Army chapter to assist with its services - the cost of which would otherwise have been drawn from the organization's coffers.
However, the organization has already lost one of its kettle sites with the anticipated closure of the Bourgeois IGA in Keeseville.
"When we lose a kettle site, that can translate into thousands of dollars," said Goodman.
Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Bernard C. Bassett said when taking into account any negative factors in the local economy it shows the need for people to contribute to charities like the Salvation Army is even greater.
"Every year we need help," said Bassett. "And, maybe this year, more than ever, there are extra people who need the help, that haven't in the past; maybe some families that aren't used to looking for resources."
Businesses, private citizens and municipalities working together will help see those needs are met, Bassett added.
"Together it happens," said Bassett. "And, I'm confident it will happen again this year."
"I have complete faith in the North Country and their generosity," added Plattsburgh City Mayor Donald M. Kasprzak, who joined Bassett in making the first donations to this year's campaign. "I am so proud to be associated every year with the Salvation Army. They are a tremendous organization ... They just make the North Country a better place."
Bellringers are again needed this year, said Goodman, with those interested in volunteering their time urged to contact the local Salvation Army office at 561-2951. Volunteers can also call The Red Kettle Center anytime toll-free at 1-877-764-7259, or by going on-line to www.redkettles.org and filling out a volunteer form on-line.