Organizers hopeful extra efforts make up losses during blizzard and subzero cold
Despite not catching any breaks from the weather, Lt. Matthew Beatty of The Salvation Army is remaining positive. Subzero temperatures caused The Salvation Army's outdoor kettle locations to close on the biggest holiday shopping weekend of the se...
Despite not catching any breaks from the weather, Lt. Matthew Beatty of The Salvation Army is remaining positive.
Subzero temperatures caused The Salvation Army’s outdoor kettle locations to close on the biggest holiday shopping weekend of the season and, earlier this month, Blizzard Alivia struck on the day of the Big Ring silent auction - the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
But through it all, Beatty is keeping the faith.
“With all of our big events, Mother Nature has countered with something,” he said. “We’re just trying to remain positive and hope we reach our goal.”
The Salvation Army’s Grand Forks location aims to raise a total of $207,000 during the Christmas season, and since the weather has been so relentless, he estimates the organization is about $20,000 behind on kettle donations alone.
The Big Ring silent auction also raised about $15,000 less than the organization had hoped, yet it raised more than Beatty anticipated it would while a storm dumped 15 inches of snow of the city.
Beatty and others have improvised to make the most of the situation. During the blizzard, those wanting to bid on items could do so by calling or texting instead of doing it in person.
This past weekend, The Salvation Army accepted credit card donations. Along with that, the organization has tried new things. Internet donations are up 700 percent, and the organization for the first time launched an aggressive social media campaign.
Without the extra efforts, Beatty estimates the group could be as far behind as $60,000.
“It could be worse,” he said. “Of course, that’s not the place we want to be right now. We want to be way up, but all things considered, we’re pretty good to be in that position right now.”
Beatty said the organization will not know its final numbers until January because many people mail checks throughout the holiday season.
The Grand Forks Salvation Army is not alone in its struggles this winter. Donations to The Salvation Army Christmas Campaign are down dramatically across Minnesota and North Dakota compared with 2015.
At this time last year, $5.3 million was donated in outstate areas of Minnesota and across North Dakota. Donations so far this year sit at $4.5 million, a drop of $800,000.
“We need the public’s help to make up this shortfall,” Lt. Colonel Lonneal Richardson, leader of The Salvation Army’s Northern Division, said in a news release. “If we don’t, we risk having to make difficult decisions about cutting back on the programs and services we offer.”
If the Grand Forks location does not meet its $207,000 goal, programs would have to be cut to balance the budget, Beatty said.
One bright spot for the organization is that online donations nationwide saw a dramatic increase Monday after Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott celebrated a touchdown Sunday by jumping into an oversized Salvation Army kettle on national television.
The red kettles will be on the streets until Dec. 24, but donations can be given to the Christmas Campaign online or via mail through Dec. 31.
Those looking to donate or volunteer can do so by calling (701) 775-2597 or by visiting its office at 1600 University Avenue.