Bell ringers seeking spare change from shoppers were met with store restrictions this holiday season that left their red kettles the emptiest they have been in 10 years.
Salvation Army spokeswoman Sandi Gabel said the "Red Kettle" ringers, who have greeted Valley shoppers for more than a hundred years, weren’t allowed by store owners to stay as long as years past.
"Stores such as grocery stores and variety stores have cut back the hours we could be there and have cut the number of locations," Gabel said.
The decreased hours and locations have resulted in less donations during the organization’s largest annual fund-raising event. The organization is $80,000 shy of their $1 million goal — which they were able to reach last year.
"The decrease in funds isn’t going to impact our Christmas projects, but the funds aren’t just for Christmas but for programs throughout the year," Gabel said. "We won’t know how badly this will affect us until we get into the year."
She said the Salvation Army is going to provide Christmas gifts and food for 60,000 Valley children, host dinner for 5,000 homeless and hungry residents and deliver 12,000 meals to homebound individuals.
The programs that may be affected include the homeless outreach program, the domestic violence shelter, and youth, senior and education programs.
• Mail to 2707 E. Van Buren, Phoenix, AZ 85008.
• Give with a credit card by calling (602) 267-4100.
• Give online at www.salvationarmycares.org.