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Salvation Army drive meets $400,000 goal

Salvation Army drive meets $400,000 goal

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Red kettle (copy)

Bismarck Municipal Airport Fire Department firefighters Robert Behm, left, and Erik Short ring hand bells as twin sisters Aliya and Ashley Goetzfried, 17, place money in a Salvation Army red kettle in December.

Donations during the Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign in Bismarck didn't meet the organization’s goal, but the shortage was more than offset by contributions through other avenues, the head of the Bismarck chapter says.

“It looks like we had a very good season,” Maj. Nelson De La Vergne said.

The annual kettle drive over the holidays brought in $117,000, falling short of the $200,000 goal. The kettle drive was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, De La Vergne said. Fewer people volunteered to man the kettles, and traffic was down at the retail locations where they were placed.

But online donations and revenue from a mail appeal helped the organization reach its total Bismarck-area goal of $400,000.

Internet donations totaled about $35,000 this year, up from $15,000 last year. Donations through the chapter’s QR code option -- through which donations could be made by taking a photo of the code with a cellphone -- netted $115,000, up from $101,000 last year.

De La Vergne in his 38 years with the Salvation Army has noticed that when the economy is down, donations trend upward. The mindset of donors becomes one of “if I’m hurting, others must be hurting too,” he said.

The $400,000 goal represents about one-third of the local chapter’s budget. The Salvation Army helps fund rent and utility assistance, food distribution and other services. The entire community -- youth and adult volunteers and those they assist -- benefits from the organization, De Le Vergne said.

“We work with all sides to make sure they all participate in our community and make people feel good about who they are,” he said.

The kettle drive netted a few silver dollars and a silver Disney collector coin weighing 1 troy ounce and valued at $27, some other coins worth more than face value “and some I have to take in because I don’t know what they are,” De La Vergne said. The final tally on the annual drive should be completed Jan. 20.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com

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