Early estimates put The Brainerd Lakes Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign about $3,700 shy of its $100,000 goal.
The campaign, which started Nov. 16, ended Monday afternoon with total donations estimated to be $96,368, said Brian Lehman, co-chair of the Red Kettle Campaign. That total didn't include coins, counter kettles or kettles placed at two church services Christmas Eve.
The final total should be known by the end of the week, Lehman said.
"We're going to be very close to our goal, which is amazing," Lehman said. "I'm guessing once everything is added up, we'll be pretty close to $100,000. It's pretty nice to know the community came through again. I'm pretty pumped about where we are at."
Once the final total is known, Capt. Brian Reed, administrator of The Brainerd Lakes Salvation Army, said the Salvation Army may again ask the community to step forward with donations if the campaign failed to meet the $100,000 goal.
Brainerd area shoppers out in force for Monday afternoon we're doing their part to make the deficit as small as possible.
Ronald Davis, a bell ringer at Westgate Mall in Baxter, said he's had a steady number of people donating Monday. Michele Stepanek, who's manned the kettle at Super One Foods for 24 years, had a constant rush of donations coming in Monday afternoon.
"We've had a real good crowd, we've been doing very well," Stepanek said. "People are doing a real, real good job. There's lots of smiles, people saying, 'Hi,' and, 'Merry Christmas.'"
Volunteers totaled 1,467 hours of bell ringing this holiday season, Lehman said, compared to 1,700 in 2006. While 2007 didn't match 2006 in terms of volunteer hours, more donations were received.
"I was hoping the volunteer spaces would be filled, but you never know," Lehman said. "It's still an amazing amount of volunteer hours for a community."
Every cloud has a silver lining, Reed said. A mail campaign raised $75,000, which was $15,000 more than the goal. Also, church and civic groups participated in a food drive, meaning red kettle dollars won't have to be used for the food shelves.
"Overall I think that every area balanced each other," Reed said. "Even though we didn't raise money in the Red Kettle Campaign to meet our goal other areas have really exceeded expectations."
Though there's a chance the Red Kettle Campaign may fall short of its $100,000 goal, Reed said he's not disappointed.
"There's never a negative part to fundraising in the Brainerd lakes community because this community is such a great place to be a part of," Reed said. "The community bought into that spirit of giving and they support wholeheartedly the programs and campaign to meet those unmet needs."
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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