COLUMBIA — The Salvation Army is low on funds and bell ringers this year. Meanwhile, demand for services is up.
The Salvation Army Harbor House emergency shelter, which houses 61 people at 602 N. Ann St., has been nearly full each day for the past six weeks. For Major Kendall Mathews, Salvation Army regional coordinator, that means providing three meals a day, supplying heat and paying employees to serve the growing number of people in need.
"I've never seen as many people as I've seen, just in the soup kitchen alone, in the last three weeks," he said.
Mathews said he hopes to meet demand through the Red Kettle donation collection. Last year, the local organization raised its goal — $334,000 — through kettle donations, appeal letter donations and other mailed-in donations.
This year Mathews said he hopes the organization will raise $341,000 by mid-January, when the collection campaign will wind down. Red Kettle fundraising will end on Christmas Eve.
By this time last year, The Salvation Army had collected about $110,000 *through bell ringers, letters of appeal and other donations. Since they began fundraising on Nov. 14, they have collected slightly more than $81,000.
Mathews said volunteers this year have already logged 190 hours of bell ringing. But despite having added four new collection places, The Salvation Army hasn't had enough volunteers to staff all 26 locations.
Without volunteers, the organization pays people $7.25 per hour to ring the bell. Mathews said he thought people might not be volunteering because they didn't know they were needed.
"We desperately, desperately need more volunteers," he said.
Those interested in volunteering should contact volunteer coordinator Amber Brown at 442-3229.