STERLING – Despite donations including jewelry and gold and silver coins, Salvation Army Lt. Cindy Marquis is “very nervous” that the charity won’t make this year’s kettle campaign goal of $80,000.
The campaign ends at 2 p.m. Monday; $60,0000 has been raised so far, Marquis said.
With kettle and other donations, the organization hopes to raise $125,000 this year, a higher-than-usual target set because of increased need in the community.
About $15,000 to $18,000 in other donations have been raised, she said, putting the group $47,000 to $50,000 behind.
“It’s a very, very big goal to meet,” Marquis said.
Last year, with a matching donation pledged, the community rallied the last weekend before Christmas and made the goal. That company is not matching donations this year, Marquis said.
She continues to have faith that the goal still can be met.
Marquis hopes to staff all 13 kettles in Whiteside County from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday.
Families requesting Christmas assistance doubled this year, from 355 to more than 700, Marquis said. The Salvation Army provides food and clothing, and it partners with Toys for Tots.
Its food pantry clients also are up – the number of grocery orders filled almost tripled from June to September, Marquis said.
On Dec. 14, an older man wrapped a $100 bill around the gold and silver coins, put it in a miniature red stocking and stuffed it in the kettle at Walgreens in Rock Falls, Marquis said.
It wasn’t easy to insert into the kettle’s narrow slot, but the donor, who gave volunteer Jordyn Hettler a piece of candy, didn’t take her up on her offer to put the donation in her kettle apron.
“He said, ‘No, I want to put it in the kettle,’” Marquis said.
On Dec. 16 last year, a man dropped a gold and a silver coin into a kettle at the same store.
This year, the coins came with a note: “MERRY CHRISTMAS from SANTA DITTO Dec. 16th.”
The gold coin is a quarter of an ounce, worth about $350. The silver coin is one ounce and is expected to bring in about $35, Marquis said.
Two men’s wedding rings, one gold, one silver, and a pair of saphire earrings also were donated, Marquis said. The jewelry has not been appraised yet, she said.
“It’s not unheard of, but it’s the first time in my lifetime of doing kettles that I’ve had jewelry come in.”
Salvation Army in Sterling has 13 kettles in Whiteside County, including:
Sullivan's Foods, 300 N. Madison St., Morrison
Walmart, 4115 E. Lincolnway, Sterling and at 1901 First Ave., Rock Falls
K-Mart, 2901 E. Lincolnway, Sterling
Northland Mall, 2900 E. Lincolnway, Sterling (two kettles)
Kroger, 2301 Locust St., Sterling
County Market, 210 W. Third St., Sterling
Save-A-Lot, 928 First Ave., Rock Falls
Walgreens, 1700 First Ave., Rock Falls and at 2506 E. Lincolnway, Sterling
In addition, unstaffed counter kettles are at: Family Table Restaurant, 1204 W. Rock Falls Road, Rock Falls; Friendship House Restaurant, 1120 W. Rock Falls Road, Rock Falls; Gazi's Restaurant, 901 First Ave., Rock Falls; Maple Pancake House, 405 Fifth Ave., Sterling; Parkway, 1804 E. Fourth St, Sterling; Aarons, 2214 E. Fourth St., Sterling; and Rent-A-Center, 2901 E. Lincolnway, Sterling.
Go to onlineredkettle.org.whitesidecounty to make an online donation.
While the kettle campaign ends 2 p.m. Monday, donors may contribute through Dec. 31 by mail or through walking in at 409 Avenue F, Sterling.