Lee’s Salvation Army won’t meet fundraising goal

Author: Matt Dougherty

FORT MYERS, Fla.- The Salvation Army of Lee County is sharing some discouraging news Tuesday, the charity does not believe it will meet this season’s bell-ringing campaign goal.

The campaign ends Wednesday afternoon and the charity is still $170,000 short.

This is Kevin Wyrick’s third day in a row beside his red kettle, outside of the Publix near downtown Fort Myers. He’d been ringing his bell for three hours straight when WINK News caught up with him.

Here and there he’ll occasionally crack a slight smile and say Merry Christmas. But this year, it doesn’t seem like any of it has helped.

“They don’t have money, they don’t have coins, stuff like that,” said Wyrick.

“What that means, is a possible cut in programming,” said Russell Rieder with The Salvation Army. Rieder says the charity probably won’t make its goal of $650,000 this year.

“Whenever we don’t have the funding, obviously, our programs are in jeopardy. This kettle here means so much more than what it looks like,” said Rieder.

As of Tuesday afternoon, The Salvation Army counted $479,000 for this season. Nearly $120,000 short of what it collected last year.

But it doesn’t mean everyone’s a miser in Southwest Florida. A 1908 Liberty Gold coin was dropped in a kettle in LaBelle last week. It’s been appraised at around $1,300 dollars.

It’s among some of the more unique donations which include questionable paper money, jewelry, and other collector coins. The charity didn’t hold onto the bullets and gold teeth donors dropped into kettles this year, but they say they’ll take it all, anything to keep all of their programs alive for the new year.

“We need help,” said Wyrick.

A Salvation Army spokesman says they don’t currently have the resources to have credit card machines at the charity’s more than 80 locations in Lee County. But he said they’d be willing to do anything to make things easier for donors. Other chapters of The Salvation Army have tried including credit card machines at their red kettles, but it hasn’t made for a significant increase in donations.

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