Ring in Christmas cheer with the iconic red kettle

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"Our red kettle campaign goal is $120,000 this year, which is actually, we've reduced that, down from $150,000 last year, and that's why our struggle is such a surprise this year", Lt. Jeff Olson of the Manitowoc County Salvation Army said. It's about making people feel happy.

If they can't meet their goal, the budget gets tighter.

Donations through the holiday help provide yearlong services including community meals, keeping food in the food pantry, camps for kids, utility assistance and more. Some bell ringers directly benefit from services provided by The Salvation Army and have chosen to support the organization that supports them.

"I had a roofing accident in the '70s and they provided my family with toys for the kids and a holiday dinner", Milks said.

"When it comes to bell ringing, we have more open time slots then we have filled time slots", he said.

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"A kettle at a location like this will average at least $800 in a day", said Captain Chapman.

"Last year, I chose to give it a swing, and when I did, I fell in love with it", he explained. "Many who've never had to depend on others for anything, now come to us", Captain Steven Wilson said. So remember, when you see that bell ringer be sure to give them a little change as it may help to change a life in Rutherford County.

"The Salvation Army puts back 83 cents per donated dollar to the community", with the rest going toward administrative and fundraising expenses, she said. The number includes $124,079.06 raised so far in the 25 Red Kettles at stores throughout Bloomington-Normal and $128,402.30 from mail, online and other gifts.

"We're run by volunteers", she said.

"We might not reach our goal this year, but we are still very thankful for everyone that has contributed to our cause".