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Weather blamed for decrease in red kettle donations in Pierce County

Audrey Frick, of Tacoma, rings her bell outside the Fred Meyer grocery store in Gig Harbor on a rainy and cold Monday night, Dec. 21, 2015. Donations to the Salvation Army’s red kettles, which sit outside stores during the holiday season, are down 15 percent in Pierce County this year.
Audrey Frick, of Tacoma, rings her bell outside the Fred Meyer grocery store in Gig Harbor on a rainy and cold Monday night, Dec. 21, 2015. Donations to the Salvation Army’s red kettles, which sit outside stores during the holiday season, are down 15 percent in Pierce County this year. dmontesino@thenewstribune.com

Donations to The Salvation Army’s red kettles, which sit outside stores during the holiday season, are lagging in Pierce County this year, and wet, windy weather is getting the blame.

This time last year, donations to the kettles totaled about $330,000, said Major Don Sheppard, who’s in charge of Pierce County Operations for the Salvation Army. The latest count this year, which did not include the weekend, was about $266,000.

Sheppard said the drop in donations won’t have an immediate effect on services offered by the Salvation Army, but it will mean the agency won’t be able to help as many families throughout the year.

There also has been a big drop in volunteer bell ringers. About 500 usually turn out to greet shoppers, but only 300 or so volunteered this year.

Record rainfall and high winds are believed to be the reasons donations are down.

“When the weather outside is frightening, people are tightly bundled up and interested in getting inside the store as quick as they can,” Sheppard said. “Who can blame them?”

Red kettle donations bring in about 30 percent of the Salvation Army’s total cash income each year, the agency reported. For every dollar brought in, the group gives 87 cents to those in need.

Red kettles are set from the Friday before Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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