Salvation Army well below goal

Ringing for help

Photo by Ralph Ward Dr. James Tracy rings the bell at the Tops Market located on Vineyard Drive in Dunkirk.

The Christmas season is well upon us and with it comes the recognizable jingle of bells of the Salvation Army.

Every year, those familiar red kettles and jolly volunteers litter storefronts and festivals throughout the country and in Northern Chautauqua County that is no different.

The financial goal of this year’s drive is $50,000 and in a shorter than normal holiday season, that puts a crunch on the group’s campaign.

“We have a lot of new volunteers this year and that’s great, all of them have worked out really well,” said Major Chris Ramirez, corps officer of the Salvation Army in Dunkirk. “However we are $3,500 below where we’d like to be at this time.”

Currently, the organization sits at $14,204 as of this week — that’s only 24% of what they’re hoping to accomplish. Though they are looking to see more donations as Christmas gets closer, they are very thankful for all the help they have received thus far.

“It ($50,000) has been our goal the last three years. Last year we did roughly $39,000, the year before, we were over,” Ramirez explained. “We couldn’t however, be more thankful to the community and all they have offered.”

The donations, Ramirez shared with the OBSERVER, are used each year to help fund their local food pantry, after-school programs, the basketball program, tutoring and summer camp. In all, the group takes care of around 300 kids.

“A big concern facing us right now is coming up short on toys,” Ramirez went on to share. “Last year we had 161 kids, this year it’s gone up to 204.”

Salvation Army volunteers will be at several local events in the coming weeks including the Fredonia Middle School Christmas concert Tuesday and the Central VIBEZ event on Dec. 14, where you can bring a toy and get a free picture with Santa. On Dec. 20, the group will be doing a 24-hour kettle drive at Walmart and are looking for local celebrities to volunteer to ring the bell.

If you’d like to sign up to volunteer or have any questions about donating, you can reach the office at 366-3701.