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Some Salvation Army bells ringing more quietly this year

November 24, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- The traditional bells at three Salvation Army kettles inside Valley Mall this holiday season might ring a bit more quietly, but that doesn't mean the need is any less.

The "clappers" inside the three bells were replaced with paper clips -- a response to a request from some mall stores that were concerned about the volume of the bells.

"Only the three inside the mall are affected," Maj. Robert Lyle of The Salvation Army in Hagerstown said at Monday's kickoff of the 2008 kettle campaign at the Valley Mall food court.

The remaining kettles around Washington County will ring out as usual, seeking $100,000 in donations this year for those in need, especially during the holidays, Lyle said.

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Confronting an economic downturn, struggling business climate and layoffs, Lyle said he remains optimistic about The Salvation Army's mission to serve a record group of people in need this year.

"So far, 1,126 families have applied for help, 200 more than last year," Lyle said.

The list of children for whom toys are needed this Christmas is 2,200, an increase of about 300 from last year.

Because of this need, the agency will take applicants one more day before the cutoff for help during the holiday drive. That day is Wednesday, and applications will be taken at the 534 W. Franklin St. headquarters from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m.

All AC&T service stations in the Hagerstown area will donate one cent to The Salvation Army from each gallon of gasoline sold Friday to Sunday.

Lyle said that kind of response from the community is why he is optimistic that the kettles, direct-mail appeal and other sources will cover the cost of the holiday, as well as the agency's feeding and housing programs throughout the year.

William Breichner of the Kiwanis Club of Hagerstown presented Lyle with a check for $1,000 Monday.

"Our mail appeal is about the same as it was last year at this point," Lyle said Monday.

This year's direct-mail campaign goal is $100,000.

Last year, kettles brought in $85,225 in donations, an increase of $7,000 from 2006, Lyle said.

The 2007 direct-mail appeal totaled $97,199, down about $4,000 from 2006. Other seasonal gifts came in at $27,866, Lyle said.

This year, kettles are at Pennsylvania Dutch Market, the U.S. Post Office on West Franklin Street, J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Prime Outlets, Macy's, Sears, Michaels, Big Lots, Ollie's and Sam's Club.

The Salvation Army serves about 100 meals each weekday and maintains 30 beds for people in need of housing.

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