St. Croix County surpasses Red Kettle goal

Local bell ringers in 2020.

“Grace Place is overwhelmed with generosity of the community,” said Angela Moulton, Fundraising Manager for the Salvation Army-St. Croix, Polk, Burnett and Barron counties.

The St. Croix County Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign has ended. The organization’s annual campaign had a goal of raising $175,000 in November and December to help fund their programs that primarily include Grace Place Homeless Shelter and the people served through that facility in other ways including emergency vouchers for heat, electric and rent. The organization is reporting that despite the global pandemic and significantly reduced volunteers at the kettle sites due to COVID, they have had a record-breaking campaign. Over $214,000 in donations have come into assist the homeless families and individuals they help throughout the year. 

Red Kettles bell ringers are a longtime fixture outside of stores around the U.S. and are a staple holiday tradition. The familiar campaign’s roots go back more than a century.

In 1891, Joseph McFee, a Salvation Army captain, was bothered by how many people in San Francisco were going hungry. He decided he wanted to give people a free Christmas meal. McFee raised the money by putting a pot out at the Oakland Ferry Landing with a sign that said, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” The tradition has been going ever since.

This past year, with the coronavirus pandemic raging and many stores closed, people didn’t hear as many of those bells ringing.

The charitable organization relies on its red-kettle campaign’s donations to raise enough money to help millions of Americans around the holidays. That was especially true this past year, with so many people out of work and suffering financially. So with store traffic down and the assumption that red-kettle donations would be down, the Salvation Army turned to technology and its enthusiastic volunteers to keep the tradition going.

Director Duana Bremer said, “The donations we have received through the mail have been really great. We were pretty worried heading into the campaign how this was all going to turn out but once again, our community rallied behind our shelter and the people we help.” 

Last year, Grace Place shelter helped over 300 homeless individuals including more than 60 homeless children at the shelter. Beyond the shelter walls, Grace Place provides case management to over 48 scattered sites throughout 4 local counties and actively works to prevent homelessness by helping people who are at risk. Bremer said, “As we move into 2021 and deal with the economic impacts of COVID, we know that we are looking at a lot of people in crisis. The Kettle Campaign being such a success this year will help. We are just so thankful.” 

If you would like to help the organization or to learn more visit:  www.SAgraceplace.org  The shelter is located at 505 W. 8th Street New Richmond, WI  54017. The organization has established an online way to give this year. They plan to keep the virtual kettle open throughout the year for people to have another way to support. That can be found at:  http://bit.ly/GracePlaceRedKettle You can also hear current updates by following them on Facebook at “Grace Place Salvation Army.”

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