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Annual red kettle campaigns begin for Salvation Army agencies

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Salvation Army organizations in the north country are tapping into online social media to help promote their annual red kettle campaigns.

Promotion via Facebook, individual online red kettles and QR codes that people can scan and be linked directly to online red kettles are just some of the efforts for this year’s annual campaign, which seeks to raise money for Christmas giving events, year-round children’s and adult programs or both.

Watertown Salvation Army Lt. Zeb Hough said he hopes to have QR codes operational at all physical red kettle sites throughout the greater Watertown area by Thanksgiving, Nov. 28.

“They’d be able to donate online if they don’t carry cash or change,” he said. “The social media-driven world we live in thrives on knowledge. They can read my story, how I came to the Salvation Army and what it means to me. It gives them something to invest in.”

People can host their own online red kettles for a Salvation Army organization. Lt. Hough said the Watertown Salvation Army’s 10-member advisory board has led the effort to raise a minimum of $500 each through their own online red kettles to benefit their Salvation Army posts.

More than $600 was pledged Monday, the first day of the Watertown Salvation Army’s online kettle campaign. People also can make a general donation to the Watertown Salvation Army’s overall online red kettle.

Watertown Salvation Army’s red kettle goal is $100,000.

For the first time, the Massena Salvation Army also will use an online red kettle system, which is “in the process of being set up,” according to Capt. Cynthia Crowsen. Its red kettle goal is $35,000, while the Ogdensburg Salvation Army hopes to raise $45,000.

While an online red kettle system is set up for the Ogdensburg Salvation Army, Capt. Timothy A. Shaffer said it is “not managed well.”

“We’re looking for someone to be willing to help us out on that line,” he said.

Capt. Shaffer said the Ogdensburg Salvation Army board of directors is really pushing countertop kettles this year, which are mini red kettles places on countertops of local businesses or organizations, that customers or visitors can drop their cash or change into. Countertop kettles also are used in the campaigns in the Massena and Watertown areas.

There will also be the continued presence of large red kettles, stationed with mostly volunteer bell ringers outside of various establishments in Watertown, Massena and Ogdensburg. While all bell ringers for the Watertown Salvation Army are volunteers, some are paid through the Massena and Ogdensburg Salvation Army agencies.

Capt. Crowsen said while people are encouraged to volunteer, some people are paid because if there aren’t enough volunteers for the large red kettles, the Salvation Army would lose funds that could have been generated from those locations. Capt. Shaffer said he has 13 paid kettle workers on reserve, but volunteers are called first.

All agencies said they could use more volunteers for their campaigns. To volunteer, call the Watertown Salvation Army at 782-4470, Ogdensburg Salvation Army at 393-3351 or Massena Salvation Army at 769-5154.

Red kettle campaigns run through Dec. 24.

For more information, search for each Salvation Army agency on Facebook at www.facebook.com, or through www.onlineredkettle.org.

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