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Salvation Army kettle drive up against shorter holiday season

  • Ivan Tristan rings the bell for the Salvation Army Kettle Drive outside the Greenfield Post Office.  Recorder file photo

    Ivan Tristan rings the bell for the Salvation Army Kettle Drive outside the Greenfield Post Office. Recorder file photo

  • Ivan Tristan rings the bell for the Salvation Army Kettle Drive outside the Greenfield Post Office on Monday.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Ivan Tristan rings the bell for the Salvation Army Kettle Drive outside the Greenfield Post Office on Monday. Recorder/Paul Franz

  • Ivan Tristan rings the bell for the Salvation Army Kettle Drive outside the Greenfield Post Office.  Recorder file photo
  • Ivan Tristan rings the bell for the Salvation Army Kettle Drive outside the Greenfield Post Office on Monday.  Recorder/Paul Franz

GREENFIELD — A later-than-usual Thanksgiving holiday has narrowed the window for the Salvation Army’s annual kettle drive, leaving Capt. Dan Brunelle “mildly concerned” the organization won’t reach its fundraising goals this year.

That concern also comes at a time when dozens of homeless families placed in local hotels by the state are adding an extra demand on agencies like the Salvation Army this Christmas.

The organization had raised just over $18,400 by the end of Saturday, said Brunelle, compared to $20,100 at this time last year. A good week of donations last week reduced what had been a $4,000 gap, he said.

The local Salvation Army, which uses the money each year to pay for about 20 percent of its services for the poor and needy, is hoping to raise $49,000 this year to match last year’s total. The donations stay local and are used all year long — to support free meals, clothing vouchers and summer camp scholarships for children in town.

Brunelle said that some Greenfield stores, as a regular policy, wait until Thanksgiving week to begin letting the kettle-bearing volunteers stand at their locations. Since the holiday fell on Nov. 28 this year, which was six days later than last year and the latest it’s been since 2002, it’s meant fewer days to raise money.

And since people generally give during the weeks leading up to Christmas, Brunelle said he also believes that some donations have been postponed.

“I’m not alarmed, but I am concerned,” said Brunelle on Monday. “The community has shown great support to the Salvation Army ... I’m praying that we will finish strong.”

The Salvation Army’s red kettle drive, a tradition that dates back to the late 19th century, is the organization’s largest fundraiser. Volunteers will stand outside six locations in town on Mondays through Saturdays until Christmas.

Some volunteers participate each year, said Brunelle. Local organizations, churches and student groups ring bells and hold the kettles as a part of the drive.

Volunteers will be at the front of the Post Office, Wilson’s Department Store and Green Fields Market from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. They’ll be at Foster’s Super Market, Stop & Shop and Walgreens (off of Federal Street) from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Last month, the Salvation Army said that a surge of homeless families into Greenfield hotels slightly stretched the organization’s budget going into the holiday season. While the Salvation Army typically provides about 25 clothing vouchers each month, that number increased by over 100 in October.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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