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Poor economy? Yep, but red kettles set record for Salvation Army

January 31, 2012 |  5:04 pm

Salvation Army kettle and the Romneys
The folks at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club know how to give. And give. The Salvation Army this week announced that its 2011 Red Kettle Campaign raised a record $147.6 million, up 3.4% over 2010.

And it gave special acknowledgements to some of the folks (and corporate partners) who made it possible. Of the total, 32% came from kettles at Wal-Mart ($41.5 million) and Sam's Club ($5 million), and 9% came from kettles at Kroger ($13.1 million).

JCPenney and Big Lots customers pitched in too, adding $3.3 million and $1.4 million respectively to the coffers.

Salvation Army Commissioner William Roberts said in the charity's announcement: "In troubling times, we are truly grateful for the generosity of the American donor to support the traditions of the campaign and help the Salvation Army carry on its mission."

But there's more than one way to put money in a kettle.

This year, kettles in a few markets accepted credit card donations, specifically aiming for the growing number of folks who carry only credit cards. (You know the type -- young.) And, of course, the campaign accepted online donations as well, through Online Red Kettle. The latter raised $1.7 million.  

"Technology is changing the way charities raise money. Whether through a credit card at a kettle or online, we're making an effort to reach the next generation of donors and make it convenient for people to support the campaign," Roberts said in the statement.

And the only sound associated with online giving is the clicking of the keyboard.

Such a detail likely has special resonance at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, Calif. There, Salvation Army kettle workers had to agree not to ring their bells.

The organization's announcement didn't include donation totals from Fashion Island.


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Photo: Every bit helps. And last year, it helped the Salvation Army set a new record. In this Dec. 23 photo, Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, talks with a bell ringer as his wife, Ann, puts money into a Salvation Army kettle while they campaigned in Concord, N.H. Credit: Winslow Townson / Associated Press