BELLINGHAM - Salvation Army bell ringers and their familiar red kettles will be outside Whatcom County businesses Monday, Nov. 25, through Dec. 24, hoping to raise $170,000 for those in need.
Those dollars are part of the organization's annual Christmas Campaign, which will include direct mailing with the goal of raising an additional $255,000.
"It's our biggest fundraiser during the year," said Maj. James Lloyd, head of the Salvation Army in Bellingham.
The money will be used to help struggling Whatcom County residents, whose numbers aren't shrinking.
"I wish it was leveling out," Lloyd said. "People that have donated to us in the past, we seem to be finding them coming in and needing help. I wish we haven't had to see so many people."
He said the Salvation Army is seeing more and more people coming in who are trying to make ends meet.
"They're good, hard-working people with decent jobs," he said.
This year's $170,000 goal is $5,000 less than what was raised last year. That's because some stores have closed or have limited the number of days that bell ringers can be outside their business.
Meanwhile, the direct mail goal is $5,000 more than last year's.
The money will be used for programs and services that help the needy, including rental assistance, food through its food bank, and case management for those seeking a way out of their current predicament.
Donations also will help give cheer during the holidays, including providing Christmas for up to 600 families, and go toward a summer camp for kids on Lummi Island.
Lloyd said the level of help the Salvation Army can provide year-round depends on how much money is raised during the Christmas Campaign.
Lloyd also is seeking volunteers for the Christmas effort. To volunteer, call him at 360-733-1410.
Reach Kie Relyea at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2234.
Reach KIE RELYEA at email@example.com or call 715-2234.