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Salvation Army coffers hit by short holiday season, rain

POSTED: December 27, 2013 11:27 p.m.

Christmas is over and the results from the Salvation Army’s annual bell-ringing fundraising campaign are in.

Corps Capt. Matt Cunningham said this year the charitable organization collected a little over $138,000 in Northeast Georgia, below last year’s $152,000.

“It was not as high as it has been in the past this year because Thanksgiving was late and the rain put a little bit of a damper on a few days,” he said. “But the day-to-day giving was phenomenal, at least as good as in the past, if not better.”

The money raised helped provide Christmas gifts and meals to more than 500 local families, as well as to help fund the organization’s general programs.

The Gainesville division of the Salvation Army operates in Hall, Barrow, Dawson, Lumpkin and Forsyth counties, and provides a variety of assistance to those in need. These programs include free meals, lodging, day classes and assistance with food, rent, utilities and clothing.

Despite the fundraising shortfall, this year the organization provided a record amount of assistance, including more than 14,000 free meals, 10,000 nights of lodging and monthly aid to over 300 people, Cunningham said. None of it would have been possible without the volunteers that participated in the campaign.

“We had an enormous amount of volunteers,” Cunningham said. “We had almost 100 people help out with just our toy distribution.”

The bell-ringing campaign first began in 1891 in San Francisco, and Gainesville’s Salvation Army picked up the tradition in 1928, according to Cunningham. Over the years it has turned into an iconic aspect of the holiday season.

“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” he said. “It started in 1891, and has just become an American tradition.

“It is when we are most visible, even though we are a 365-day-a-year organization.”

Gainesville’s Salvation Army is still trying to make up for the light fundraising campaign through traditional donations, which can be made at through the organization’s website, or by calling 770-534-7589.


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