HANCOCK - The Salvation Army is wrapping up its charitable Christmas initiatives for the year, according to Maj. Mark Brown. About 125 families received gifts during the Salvation Army's Cheer Club distribution Friday, and today is the last day bell ringers will be collecting cash to support the Army's year-round programs.
Final numbers aren't in yet, but Brown said the Salvation Army appears to have fallen short of its goals in both initiatives.
"Donations are down all over the country," he said, citing a stagnant economy and, locally, a harsh early winter that kept people home instead of out doing charitable work.
Dan Roblee/Daily Mining Gazette
Salvation Army case worker Sue Verville sorts through gifts left over after the Army’s Friday Cheer Club gift distribution. The gifts will be stored until next year.
Despite partnerships with local businesses The Daily Mining Gazette, Walmart and Superior National Bank, the Cheer Club struggled to find enough gifts for teen boys, though it had an abundance of toys for some other age groups.
Still, the Cheer Club was a Christmas highlight for some children and the parents that chose their gifts at the distribution.
"There's usually somebody that goes out in tears every year," Brown said. "They got the present they wanted when they didn't really think they were going to."
Brown said volunteer bell-ringer turn out was fairly strong, though the Salvation Army didn't have anyone to man Shopko's storefront yesterday, on what should have been a busy shopping day. Even today, he said, he'd welcome a few more folks willing to don the red suits for one last push, until about 5 p.m.
Those that did ring the bells were a hardy bunch, he added, as they had to brave some of the coldest December temperatures in years.
Brown also complimented two volunteers who have given their all throughout the year and for several years - Claire Gaff and Jeanne Bezotte.
Looking forward, Brown said the Salvation Army needs volunteers to box up gifts left over from the Cheer Club for next year and to clean up the gym where the distribution was held.
The Salvation Army's biggest long-term goal, he said, is to establish a youth ministry. But the they also has several other programs which are in need of volunteers.
"Call the office if you have the time," he said. "We can find something."
To learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Salvation Army or to seek help, call (906)483-2215.