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Watertown Salvation Army seeks donations throughout holiday season

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With just half — $117,000 — of its $233,000 total holiday fundraising goal collected thus far, the Watertown Salvation Army and its clients will rely on generous donors to help close the gap.

Lt. Zeb Hough said no matter how far behind the agency is from a goal, surprising community support always helps meet the agency’s need.

“Certainly the state of the economy is showing up in our fundraising, but the generosity of Watertown amazes me,” he said. “We’re not seeing huge shortfalls.”

The agency’s red kettle campaign — its largest fundraiser — runs through Dec. 24. Its second largest fundraiser, Old Newsboys Day, was held Dec. 6. Lt. Hough said the agency collected $27,000, just shy of its $30,000 goal.

“We did put an appeal (out) to let people know there’s still time,” he said. “We’re just looking for that magical $3,000 donor who forgot to open his checkbook.”

Old Newsboys Day is sponsored by the Watertown Daily Times. Participants sell copies of the newspaper for prices ranging from 75 cents to hundreds of dollars. The campaign officially closes Dec. 26. Lt. Hough said new donors and street sellers helped contribute to the total amount raised, including $800 raised by the Lowville Journal and Republican. That weekly newspaper is owned by Northern New York Newspapers and is a sister publication of the Watertown Daily Times.

“Old Newsboys Day is a tried-and-true fundraiser, so I think that’s why we’re almost seeing a plateau,” Lt. Hough said. “I think there’s a lot of not-for-profits fundraising in the community, especially now.”

The total holiday fundraising effort will end in early January. Lt. Hough said responses to the annual Christmas mass mailing haven’t come in yet, a campaign that typically generates about $35,000 annually.

Many people contribute their spare change and extra dollars into red kettles throughout the greater Watertown area, he said, when they shop closer to Christmas Day.

“We feel very optimistic about it,” Lt. Hough said.

Funds raised throughout the holiday season will contribute to the Watertown Salvation Army’s year-round programming, as well as its annual Christmas effort.

Lt. Hough said about 450 families have signed up for the Christmas gift and food giveaway. Distribution of children’s toys and games, among other items, and a food basket will take place beginning at 9 a.m. Friday at the agency, 723 State St.

For more information on how to help the agency this season, call 782-4470.

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