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Erik Burgess, Published November 20 2013

Fargo Salvation Army hopes to raise record-breaking $950,000

FARGO – They’ll have less time to do it, but Fargo’s Salvation Army hopes to break the record it set last year by raising $950,000 in its familiar red kettles this holiday season.

Organizers kicked off the effort Wednesday morning, noting that the 2013 campaign will be five days shorter than last year’s, which raised $911,875.37 in more than two months.

This year’s goal will require 5,000 volunteers, said Tom Dawson, the honorary 2013 campaign chairman. That’s about 700 more than volunteered last year.

Bell-ringers will be out for 10 hours a day, Monday through Saturday, at 32 posts across Fargo-Moorhead, said Dawson, president of Dawson Insurance in Fargo. The drive ends at 2 p.m. Dec. 24.

“We’ve got a pretty short time frame,” he said. “But I don’t want you to think that the fact that my job is short and the campaign is relatively short, that it diminishes the impact that this campaign has on our community.”

The Salvation Army this year will also encourage donors to match a kettle’s daily amount, said Maj. Elaine Medlock, a commanding officer of the local Salvation Army.

“Or a super generous person could manage to match a whole day of ringing,” Medlock said.

Money raised in the red kettles makes up about two-thirds of the local Salvation Army’s annual budget, Dawson said.

Last year, 4,312 volunteers logged 10,780 bell-ringing hours. In 2011, the effort raised $877,000.

The kettle campaign was one of three seasonal charity drives to announce their plans Wednesday.

FirstLink will begin its “Giving Tree of Hope” campaign Friday, collecting donated gifts at West Acres until Dec. 17 and distributing those gifts Dec. 18 at the Fargo Civic Center.

Gifts for can also be donated at Toys for Tots, Santa’s Village at Rheault Farm, or the south Fargo and Dilworth Wal-Marts, said Cindy Miller, FirstLink executive director.

The Fargo Park District also announced Wednesday that Macy’s will give $1 to Make-A-Wish North Dakota for every “letter to Santa” written at Santa’s Village at Rheault Farm, up to $1 million.

Santa’s Village, at 2902 25th St. S., also accepts donations of nonperishable food and new or gently-used toys and is open Nov. 30 until Dec. 23.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518