Shorter Holiday Season Affects Salvation Army

POTTSTOWN PA – Salvation Army red kettles, an easily recognized sign of the holidays and the hope generous donors offer to those in need, face a problem this year in Pottstown, Boyertown, Phoenixville, and across Southeastern Pennsylvania.

It’s the calendar, explains Divisional Commander Lt. Col. Larry Ashcraft, who represents the non-profit organization’s Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware division.

This year’s late Thanksgiving Day holiday, observed Nov. 28, delayed the start of the Salvation Army’s collection season. Its mostly outdoor bell-ringers and their accompanying collection kettles on tripods have missed “nearly a full week of activity” as a result, it reported Friday (Dec. 13, 2019).

The coincidental “closing of multiple participating department stores and family-owned businesses” this year hasn’t helped either, leaving fewer kettle locations in several communities. Salvation Army coverage locally includes areas in Boyertown and Phoenixville, managed by Corps Officer Lt. Joseph Smith in Boyertown; and in the Pottsgrove townships and Pottstown, supervised by Corps Officer Maj. Lawrence Shurtleff in Pottstown.

The outcome so far? Donations are falling significantly short, according to the group’s leadership. Overall collections are running about 30 percent behind those of 2018, it said. And only nine days remain until Christmas, when the kettles traditionally shut down.

“Every gift helps The Salvation Army provide hope and consolation to the neediest among us,” Ashcraft noted. Its Red Kettle campaign “is crucial to its ability to serve tens of thousands of struggling families,” he said, and so it’s “sending an urgent plea” to individuals, corporations, and groups to give generously.

“While the number of days available to us is down in 2019, the need in the community continues unabated,” Ashcraft added.

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