MADISON HEIGHT, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Salvation Army’s slogan says: “Doing the Most Good.” They have been doing that in metro Detroit for 138 years.
But this year, they are close to being $1 million short of their goal of $8.3 million in their Red Kettle campaign.
The annual campaign ends this Friday, and the Salvation Army hopes a last-minute push will helps those in need.
“I’ve got time, and it’s a good charity,” Salvation Army bell ringer Pete Siska said.
Siska has been a volunteer bell ringer for 12 years.
“It’s cold. I’m used to it,” he said.
Siska works two-hour shifts as many days as he can when he's not working his paying job.
“It’s a good day today — a lot of $10 bills,” he said.
COVID-19 is out, right along with the spirit of giving and the virus has attacked the Salvation Army ranks.
"There's ‘help wanted’ signs everywhere and it's hard for us to find bell ringers," Lt. Col. John Turner said.
And with COVID-19 leading to many layoffs, people need the Salvation Army's help more than ever.
“Their needs for food or assistance for utilities. It's absolutely incredible,” Barbara McAllister, who’s been with the Salvation Army for 41 years said.
It’s not just the divisional commander who has given decades of his life. So have many people on the staff.
“It’s like a second home, like family,” McAllister said.
Brandi Robinson is a single mom raising her son and daughter. She was facing homelessness and no Christmas without the Salvation Army.
“They provided toys, they got them brand new coats, hats. They gave them gloves,” Robinson said.
“I'm grateful that they did help me because being without a Christmas and being without a roof over your head, that's something I would never want to ever go through again,” she continued.
Some anonymous donors have dropped off four gold coins worth about $1,700 each. They were wrapped in $1 bills when they were dropped into the kettles.
All the money that’s donated is accounted for and audited.
“That audit will reveal that 86 cents of every dollar that comes to the Salvation Army goes out indirect assistance. That’s a very high number. Now we don't pay our people all that well. Sorry about that,” Turner said.
The kettles will be gone Friday, but can continue to give through text, online or by calling.
“Don't forget that there are always people that are worse off than you, but the Lord will see us through,” McAllister said.