PLATTSBURGH - If you're hearing bells, it could be that you're in love, but chances are it's because the Salvation Army of Plattsburgh has kicked off its annual Red Kettle Campaign.
The leadership of the local Salvation Army chapter marked the start of its 2010 fundraising season Nov. 4 during a press conference at Champlain Centre.
Capt. Laurence Goodman, director of the local chapter, noted Red Kettle bellringers will now be seen throughout the region encouraging donations for the Christian-based nonprofit organization. Though the Salvation Army is arguably most recognized for its Red Kettle Campaign bellringers, Goodman noted it's really the only way the organization actively seeks donations.
"Most major corporations have several fundraisers a year, whether it be a carnival or comedian coming in or a steak roast. There are many different ways. We have one," said Goodman. "Yes, it's a major fundraiser that last for several weeks, but once we're done that's it."
The money raised by the Red Kettle Campaign makes up roughly one-third of the chapter's annual budget. The other two-thirds is divided among proceeds from the chapter's thrift store on Montcalm Avenue and legacies and bequests made to the organization.
This year's Red Kettle Campaign aims to raise $155,000 - a figure up from last year's goal of $140,000. Goodman said that amount may seem like a lot of money to the average person, but considering how the chapter offers outreach services in Clinton and Essex - which includes emergency housing, clothing, food, prescriptions and fuel - that's just enough to meet the overwhelming demand.
"We served over 10,400 people in our soup kitchen alone last year, 600 with our food pantry and 8,000 received free produce," said Goodman.
What tells the leadership of the Salvation Army that they're doing a good job of managing their money is if they don't have to cut programs, Goodman said.
"And, we're moving forward, not only meeting but hopefully expanding. That's what we've been doing each year.
Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Bernard C. Bassett, who made the ceremonial first donation to the Red Kettle Campaign for the year, commended the Salvation Army for meeting the needs of the community as they continue to grow.
"I've often said the fabric of a quality community is woven by many, many special organizations and volunteers and not the least of which at all is the Salvation Army," said Bassett.
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.