Volunteers sought for Red Kettle campaign
“We could sure use people volunteering,” said the Rev. Joe Phipps, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church about Fairfield’s Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign. “The vast majority of the money helps right here locally, and the money that we collect we divide by 12 in order to see how much we can give out [each month].”
Through the efforts of volunteers and the many people who donated, last year’s campaign raised $30,000, of which, more than half of that assisted Jefferson County residents with things, such as rent, utilities, prescriptions and transportation to and from medical appointments.
“Those are the big ones, but if other needs come up, we look at those on a consideration basis,” Phipps said, adding that 70 percent of raised funds stay here, but that of the 30 percent that goes to the national organization, some of it could find its way back to Jefferson County.
“For major disasters like a fire or a flood, we have funds available from the national Salvation Army… the nice thing is, the major disasters won’t drain our local funds,” he said.
“The more people giving and the more people volunteering would help with making that money stretch,” he said, commenting that sometimes people who need the money are turned away.
Last year, long-time Jefferson County resident Edd Felger gave a $5,000 donation that helped boost the pot over its $28,000 goal.
However, Phipps said any size donation is appreciated.
“We’ve already had someone drop $100 into one of the kettles,” Phipps said. “Some folks enjoy the anonymity of walking by and dropping it in where nobody sees it until the end of the day, but the bulk of what we get is dollar bills and quarters — that all adds up, this community has been very generous.”
Anyone can volunteer to ring the bell and collect donations between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. in front of anchor stores, such as Fairfield Hy-Vee Food and Drug Store and Walmart.
Phipps said he usually has to hire people, which takes away from the money that could go into the community.
“The Kiwanis [Club] The Fairfield Lions [Club], the Jefferson County Health Center and Libertyville Savings Bank, those are typically the groups that step up and have stepped up in the past. They cover a weekend here and there; but I have a lot of spaces during the week that individuals could come forward,” Phipps said, commenting that shifts are typically two hours, but if someone is willing and can’t stay as long, he would be happy to make an adjustment.
“We will go until Dec. 24 and there isn’t a cut off for when people can sign up to volunteer; all you need to do is call me at 233-7916,” he said. “Sometimes we end earlier than the 24th because we don’t have people volunteering for Christmas Eve.”
Phipps said people shouldn’t hesitate to volunteer, because the Salvation Army is an organization where the majority of the money raised stays right here in the community to help those who need it.
“This is a national program with an excellent track record of keeping the administrative costs very, very low like somewhere between 3 to 4 percent. So 95 plus percent goes to help either locally or nationally,” he said. “Your money is going to a good place to help someone else — you can be certain that it will find its way into a needful situation.”
Donations are also accepted at freestanding kettles at Casey’s General Stores, Yummy’s Gourmet Cakes, Caribou Coffee, Orscheln Farm & Home, Tractor Supply Co., Hy-Vee Gas and the Iowa State Savings Bank on Fourth Street and Burlington Avenue.
“I continue to be pleasantly overwhelmed by the generosity of this community,” Phipps said.