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Generosity, technology boost Red Kettle campaign past goal in Lewis County

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LOWVILLE — As of the morning of Christmas Eve, the $10,000 goal already had been met for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign in Lewis County. An additional $700 was estimated in change still to be counted, and volunteers still had a few hours of bell-ringing ahead of them.

While the campaign has been going on for a number of years in the county, new goals and a merger with technology saw an unprecedented amount of donations last year and a doubling of that number this year.

Last year’s campaign was organized by two Lewis County Chamber Leadership Academy students, Rosalie A. Ritz and Amy S. Marti, as part of a class project.

Anne L. Merrill, executive director of the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce, recalled the beginning of that campaign.

“When they said they were looking to raise $5,000, I thought, ‘That’s awful high,’ but I wasn’t going to discourage them,” she said.

Ms. Ritz and Mrs. Marti met that goal by organizing a volunteer schedule and manning the kettles more hours than had ever been done before.

This season, while the two still helped with the campaign, they handed the reins over to the Rev. Keith W. Hardy Jr., Bethel Church of the Nazarene.

As a member of this year’s Leadership Academy class, he took over as chairman of the campaign.

He took the volunteers’ scheduling to the tech level, enlisting volunteer Aldea LaParr, Dee’s Website Center, to set up a website for volunteers to sign up online.

“Everyone can see what times are available,” the Rev. Mr. Hardy said. “It absolutely helped fill up the slots, but really, it’s because of the generosity of this community that we raised that much. I’m blown away by their generosity.”

The Rev. Mr. Hardy said church member Ramona Salmon also was instrumental in helping recruit volunteers.

Red kettles were set at up Walmart and Tops Market in Lowville.

All money raised through the campaign in Lewis County will benefit the Salvation Army within the county.

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