Wichita Salvation Army red kettle to stay on display as donations remain low

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Just before Christmas, KSN reported that the Wichita Salvation Army was in desperate need of donations.

The organization tells us they would have to consider making cuts to staff or services as a result.

Now, the holidays may be over but Wichita’s Salvation Army is still trying to meet that holiday goal.

“Kettle income is down,” said Major Joseph Wheeler, with the Wichita Salvation Army. “Very few people carry change anymore because of the society we live in so about $80,000 of losses from our red kettles.”

People just aren’t giving the way they used to, Major Wheeler said.

Because of that, Wheeler made the decision to leave the giant red kettle, a replica of the smaller donation kettles, outside the Salvation Army downtown.

That giant kettle comes out in November and is usually taken down the first week of January, but the Salvation Army offers services year round and the organization wants to remind people of that, Wheeler said.

“I’ve decided that the red kettle and the Mission of Hope logo will stay up year round here at 350 north Market as a constant reminder that number one, services are available to those who are less fortunate, whether they’re homeless, whether they’re hungry, whether they need help with utilities, we provide services as long as resources are available,” Wheeler said.

But those resources depend on donations.

The goal for the holidays this year was $1.7 million.

That’s the amount needed to cover Salvation Army service for the Wichita area, not just during the holidays, but all year, Wheeler said.

“That funding again, impacts programs far more than Christmas,” Wheeler said. “It impacts our homeless services program, it impacts our emergency social services program, it provides warmth year round.”

Right now, they’re about $473,000 short of that goal and $130,000 behind where they were this time last year.

The Wichita Salvation Army has been short of their goal the last five years and because of that, they’ve lost more than $1 million in income, while the needs of people remain the same.

The goal set by the organization is realistic, Wheeler said.

“Unfortunately, we don’t set it by what we think we can reach,” he said. “We try to set it by what we know we need to provide, the services needed in town.”

Wheeler believes many people are concerned with the economy, which seems to be on an upward swing, he said, but donors are still hesitant to give because of uncertainty with the market or personal finances.

“A lot of people today are living paycheck to paycheck so they aren’t as generous as they’ve been able to be in the past,” Wheeler said.

Unless something changes in the number of people who need services from the Salvation Army, they will continue to do whatever they can to lend a hand, he said.

“We want to remind people they can check with the Salvation Army if there’s a need because often we will have the resources or the ability to help,” Wheeler said.

You can help out through online donations or by sending money to their location at 350 North Market St. Wichita, KS 67202.