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EDITORIAL: Holiday bells tell story of growing need

The local chapter of the Salvation Army has been meeting people's basic needs for years. The organization has a strong track record of efficiently distributing the donations they receive to those in the greatest need.

Whether it's providing temporary shelter, a good meal, weekend food for children or rent assistance, the Salvation Army in St. Croix and Polk counties has served as an important safety net for families and individuals in crisis.

While their efforts have remained strong through the years, the Salvation Army has faced a significant challenge in recent years. With the U.S. economy stagnating, the need for the organization's services have grown. Every effort has been made to stretch donations as far as they can go, but during many recent years the funds have run dry by the end of the year.

That's why the local Salvation Army has bumped up its annual Red Kettle Campaign goal by $10,000 this holiday season. The organization's annual goal has been about $100,000 each of the past few years. Organizers have been reluctant to increase that goal knowing that many families in the region are struggling to make ends meet.

There was no way to ignore the increasing demand for Salvation Army services this year, however.

As you walk past the Red Kettles this holiday season, remember that the bells you hear are telling an important story. Your neighbors and friends across the community are hurting and they need a helping hand.

If you're one who has ignored the holiday season plea in the past, your community is asking you to pitch in this year. This region has dug deep in the past to support the efforts of the Salvation Army and other non-profit organizations that serve the needy, so we have no doubt that will continue. This year, however, will require an even greater commitment to helping.

Your donated coins and dollars could mean the difference between a person getting a meal on a particular day or them going to bed hungry that night. It could translate into a family getting to stay in a shelter an extra night while they attempt to get their lives back on track.

If you can't give any more, perhaps you could volunteer to ring bells once or twice during the next month. Donations can only be collected while people are standing next to the Red Kettles, and the more often the kettles are out the better.

Either way, it's important that each of us do our part. By donating your time or money, you are helping those around us who are struggling and need a bit of assistance.