ELKHART — The holidays haven’t snuck up on The Salvation Army in Elkhart.
It’s been busy planning this year’s holiday fundraising campaign, which kicked off Friday, Nov. 15. The format is the same — volunteer bell ringers, red kettles for donations — but this year’s goal is even bigger than before.
“This year’s campaign faces increasing challenges,” campaign chairman Art Decio said, citing local residents who are struggling to meet their financial needs.
He added that thanks to the enthusiasm of new officers and the support of volunteers, the $475,000 goal for this year will be met.
Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore expressed support for the campaign, saying that Elkhart isn’t called “the city with a heart” for no reason.
“We are going to see the kettles come out,” he said. “And as we approach those kettles, it’s not an obligation but it’s something we should do.”
Campaign co-chairperson Debby Mathias-Burton said the local Salvation Army raised $450,000 last year to help families during the holidays. During the 2012 Christmas season, about 2,900 people were helped, she said.
Decio said that he first started supporting The Salvation Army when he was 9 years old and decided to donate a third of his paper route income to the organization.
“There’s no other organization that does this,” he said. “(The Salvation Army) finds the people in need, and they take care of them.”