Salvation Army low on help

Christmas Kettle campaign launched on Monday
By: Megan Moore Journal Correspondent
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Hear the sound of that bell? The Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle campaign began Nov. 19 and will continue through the holiday season.
Bell ringers can be found at eight locations throughout Auburn including two CVS locations, Save Mart, Walgreens, McCaulou’s, Kmart and the post office on Nevada Street, said Heather McBride, the kettle coordinator.
According to McBride,  Raley’s and Bel Air can now be added to that list, but they still need volunteers to fill the spots.
McBride said last season the Salvation Army logged 2,392 volunteer hours but this year they don’t have enough helpers.
“We are still looking for volunteers,” she said.
Ken Tokutomi, the chairman for the advisory board of the Auburn Salvation Army said, “It’s the largest fundraiser we do in the Auburn area.”
Tokutomi said last year they raised about $82,000, which goes to social programs like the food closet and sheltering people.
“Our job is to help those who are less fortunate and needy,” he said.
According to the Salvation Army’s website, “the Salvation Army assists more than 4.5 million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time period.”
The Salvation Army’s website also states that, kettles are not just used in the United States, but around the world, in Korea, Japan, Chile and many European countries.
This year Tokutomi does not expect they will raise as much money as last year.
Initially, the nonprofit did not expect to have bell ringers at Raley’s.
However, this week, John Segale, spokesperson for Raley’s and Bel Air said Raley’s and Bel Air are partners the Salvation Army and will be allowing bell ringers this year.
Ringers will be outside Bel Air starting Nov. 21, and as soon as they get more volunteers, ringers will be outside Raley’s as well, she said.
Tokutomi said, the post office, another primary location, is only allowing bell ringers at their location four days this Christmas season.
 “We appreciate them allowing us those four days, we picked four Mondays and we were assured they were good days,” McBride said.
“I expect the giving to be down because there are less location, unless the community steps up to the plate,” Tokutomi said.
To keep donations up, an electronic campaign will go into effect this year, Tokutomi said.
“The Army is going into an electronic program, you can go online and donate and text in donations,” he said.
According to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle website, as of Nov. 19, they have raised $167,000 online, which is 6 percent of their $3 million goal.
This is Pemberton’s fourth year volunteering with the Salvation Army. This is just one of many places he volunteers. He also volunteers at the food bank and for Habitat for Humanity, he said.
Pemberton said he volunteers, “Just to give back, God’s been good to me.”
People usually only have good things to say as they donate, often times commenting that they like knowing where their money will be going, said Pemberton.
“Some say the Salvation Army does really good work, there has been some discussion about where their money goes when they donate, and the Salvation Army has a really good reputation for that,” he said.
The largest donation Pemberton has received was $20.
“It could be more, but you don’t usually look,” he said.
Donations were slow at first, he said, but toward the end of his first shift donations started to pick up.
However, he added, “the closer it gets to Christmas, the less people give because they’ve already spent all their money.”