Salvation Army close to goal for Red Kettle Campaign

Port Huron resident Hal Gerhold stands outside Kroger at 1215 24th St. in Port Huron, raising money for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign. (Tony Wittkowski | Times Herald)

Port Huron resident Hal Gerhold stands outside Kroger at 1215 24th St. in Port Huron, raising money for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign. (Tony Wittkowski | Times Herald)

By Tony Wittkowski | City Reporter | The Times Herald

St. Clair County residents are embracing the holiday spirit as the Salvation Army nears its goal for the year.

Laura Smith, coordinator of the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign, said that as of Tuesday bell ringers have raised 74 percent of the $400,000 goal for the holiday season. With $293,447 raised, the Salvation Army already has eclipsed the $266,143 collected at this point last year.

Smith urged residents to find ways to get others involved.

“We’re doing well, but we are quite a bit down from our goal,” Smith said. “The other day, somebody posted online to stop by our kettles and make a donation, and that’s what brought them out. People are finding other ways to help out.”

The bell ringers who stand outside local businesses will be out collecting today — and Smith said she still is looking for more volunteers.

There are 17 Red Kettle locations, and Smith said two to eight people are posted at each site.

Smith said people who want to donate also can stop by the Salvation Army Citadel, 2000 Court St., Port Huron, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“We see a lot of people donating because we have helped them or a family member during the war, so it’s just a way for them to pay it forward,” Smith said. “A lot of the ringers are surprised by the amount of young people that do stop by and make a donation.”

Bram Turner has been ringing bells for the Salvation Army for three years.

On Tuesday, the Port Huron resident stood outside the Hobby Lobby in Fort Gratiot performing “Joy to the World” on the cornet he plays with the Salvation Army Band.

“Any donation means a lot to the Salvation Army and the people it’s going to,” Turner said. “I love the Salvation Army, and seeing the smiles on kids’ faces when they put money in the kettle. I love the job. I love the people.”

Outside the Kroger at 1215 24th St. in Port Huron Township, Hal Gerhold rang his bell while covered from head to toe to combat the cold.

The Port Huron resident said he has volunteered for his church and the Salvation Army because it “helps a good cause.”

Stationed near the entry doors of Kroger, Gerhold said he had plenty of interaction with customers who donated money.

“Everybody keeps telling me to stay warm. Another guy told me he has been doing this for 10 years,” Gerhold said. While his bucket began to fill toward the end of his seven-hour shift, he said there was more than just change that was put in his red kettle. “I’ve seen some fives and tens and a lot of one-dollar bills. It all adds up in the end.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 989-6270 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 23, 2014)

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