Columbia man sings to raise money for Salvation Army

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 | 6:19 p.m. CST; updated 6:25 p.m. CST, Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Michael Kasten, 22, sings Christmas carols instead of ringing a bell for the Salvation Army while Renee Baxter donates money Tuesday at Hy-Vee shopping center. "He's wonderful," Baxter said, "and it really gets you in the Christmas mood."

COLUMBIA — If you’ve been to Hy-Vee recently, you might have heard singing instead of the familiar Salvation Army bell ringing.

Michael Kasten, 22, is a long-time volunteer for the Salvation Army. “Pretty much my whole life is Salvation Army," Kasten said.


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During the holiday season, Kasten not only helps collect kettles for the Salvation Army, he also volunteers to sing by kettles in various Columbia locations.

Originally from St. Louis, Kasten moved to Columbia when he was 16. His adopted mom, a Salvation Army soldier, has inspired Kasten to make his own Salvation Army contributions. Besides singing to gather contributions outside stores, Kasten also plays piano for the Salvation Army, especially during the holidays.

“When I was younger I wanted to be a singer, but then I realized there was a bigger purpose for my voice and for what I did, and this is what it came to," Kasten said.

On Monday, Kasten brought in $153 in one hour at Hy-Vee while singing.

The Salvation Army has been concerned that its holiday campaign would raise less money this year because of the economy, but “you know need when you see need," said Kasten, who said he is hopeful about the turnout.

The Salvation Army Columbia Corps announced Tuesday  in a news release that it still needs to raise $45,000 in order to meet its total campaign goal of $307,000; the money would help provide basic human services to people in extreme need.

“People in this community have been very good about donating to our red kettles, but that is only one part of our campaign. The other part comes from people who write a check and send it in,” Maj. Kendall Mathews, regional coordinator of the Salvation Army, said in the release. “We ask the people in our community to support the Salvation Army’s work, which is done in the name of our donors."

The Salvation Army helps people in need throughout the year by providing emergency housing, food and clothing.

“People depend on The Salvation Army and that help comes because of the generosity of our donors,” Cyndy Chapman, regional development director, said in the release. “Donors are our life blood and at the core of all we do in the community, to serve local people."

Donations can be sent to The Salvation Army at 1108 W. Ash St., Columbia, MO 65203.

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