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Salvation Army seeks more donations through ‘Stuff the Kettle Drive’

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MASSENA - Don’t be surprised to find bell ringers standing in an out-of-the-ordinary place today in Massena.

They’ll be set up on East Orvis Street, in front of the Knights of Columbus hall, to collect donations for Massena and the surrounding areas serviced by the local Salvation Army.

Salvation Army Lt. Cynthia Crowsen said they’re calling it the “Stuff the Kettle Drive,” and it will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We have the same kettle shifts. We’ll have two shifts of our volunteers stand in front of the Knights of Columbus with the kettle,” she said, noting it’s an effort similar to those used by local fire departments and rescue squads to raise money.

“We’ll be standing out there with kettles, just to be able to say hello to passers-by as they drive by the Knights of Columbus,” she said. They hope to make up some donations, which Lt. Crowsen said are down this year. One of the reasons for the decline, she said, is fewer kettle stands. They no longer have a stand at the IGA in Hogansburg because that store is no longer open, and they don’t have a kettle at BJ’s in Massena. They also no longer have paper kettles at Burger King.

But, Lt. Crowsen said, there are other factors, too.

“We have seen a decline in donations this year, partly because of the economy. And without snow, our donations do go down. If people often don’t feel like it is Christmas, there’s often less giving because it doesn’t have the same Christmas feeling. People don’t have the same notion that Christmas is coming until they look at the calendar and realize today is the 14th of December and there’s actually only 12 days until Christmas,” she said.

That’s left Salvation Army officials trying to generate more revenue in different ways.

“We’ve done things to try to increase our donations. We’re trying to make other efforts to bring in different avenues of revenue. Having this Stuff the Kettle is definitely one of the ways of doing it,” the lieutenant said.

Any donations, whether it’s during today’s Stuff the Kettle Drive or at any of the other kettles, is welcome, she said.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Canadian or American (money). It doesn’t matter if it’s pennies or dollars. Donors can give whatever they have. It does all add up. When we count the pennies, they do add up a lot,” Lt. Crowsen said, noting they’ve often had $10 to $15 in pennies when emptying their kettles, which can go for local programs or activities such as purchasing goods from the food bank.

Those who don’t have cash on hand when they’re near one of the red kettles can still make a donation, whether it’s through a check sent to the local Salvation Army or at an online red kettle.

“If someone would like to send a check, they can send it directly to 20 Russell Road, P.O. Box 107, Massena, New York 13662,” Lt. Crowsen said.

Credit cards or debit cards can be used at the online red kettle, at www.onlineredkettle.org. Those donations also come back to the local community.

“They base it on where the ZIP code is for the billing address. If the ZIP code is based in any of the service areas we have, those donations all come back to the area we work in,” she said.

Lt. Crowsen stressed that all donations, no matter where or how they’re made, come back to the local community for local programs.

“ It doesn’t go into a large pot. It goes back into the area which we service,” she said. “It really will all stay local in Massena and benefit the community of Massena and the surrounding towns we service. If we don’t raise as much as we have in the past, we’re not able to assist as much as we have in the past.”

The same is true for any other donation, whether it’s money, or a turkey or ham for a Christmas basket.

“We want to be here and we are here working in our community, meeting the human needs that are here in Massena and the towns that surround it. We’re very proud that the money donated in Massena stays in Massena. We know that it is important, when you give back, that you give back to your community,” she said.

The money raised during the holiday season assists others year-round, Lt. Crowsen said.

“They would all be used for programs, whether it’s our food pantry, our utilities and rent assistance, our children’s programs and adult programs, or anything we do at The Salvation Army,” she said.

The red kettle campaign officially ends at 8 p.m. Christmas Eve.

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