Salvation Army urgently needs your company’s help

    Maybe standing outside in the cold, ringing a bell and appealing for help for the Salvation Army of Greater Milwaukee over the holidays isn’t your idea of a good time. Fine. But you can still help.

    And your help has never been more direly needed.

    Your company or your organization can start your own “Virtual Red Kettle” fundraising campaign, reaching out to your employees, your co-workers, your vendors, your partners, your customers and more. It’s easy. Just go to

    More than two dozen Milwaukee-area companies or organizations have formed their own Virtual Red Kettles to help the cause so far, and Faithe Colas, community relations director of the organization, says more are urgently needed.

    “Supporters can ‘ring bells’ from the comfort of their homes and businesses by starting their own Virtual Red Kettle. Simply visit Donors can keep up to date with all Salvation Army Christmas activities at, and on Facebook and Twitter. They can view seasonal highlights on YouTube, Flickr and Shuttlefly,” Colas said. “I think it’s fun.”

    Several factors are leading the Salvation Army to go the virtual route for donations. First of all, the number of actual red kettles at retail stores has declined in the region.

    “A lot of companies have found that they need that space for marketing,” said Colas, who said some retailers have chosen to make donations, rather than allow the red kettles at their stores.

    Colas won’t say it, but I will. Some retailers have simply become Scrooges and have turned the kettles away, so as not to bother their customers.

    Another factor that is driving the Virtual Red Kettle campaign is desperation. Donations to the Milwaukee chapter are down about 1 percent this year.

    “That might not seem like a big deal, except that requests (for help) are up 30 percent,” Colas said. “You wouldn’t be overstating it to say the need is as urgent as it has ever been.”

    The community’s requests for food in the first eight months of 2009 surpassed the requests that were needed for all of 2008, Colas said.

    The Salvation Army’s homeless shelter has been full to capacity all year long, Colas said.

    “We have 120 beds. We’re turning away about 50 people a day, and we have a waiting list,” she said.
    The recession, of course, is turning once-proud, self-sustaining, middle-class families into people who need assistance for the first time in their lives.

    “The unemployment and foreclosures have forced a lot of families to turn to other families, relatives, for help. But that’s only short-lived. Eventually, they have to reach out for help. Many have never done that before,” Colas said.

    There but for the grace of God … Help if you can. If you don’t have the time to set up your own Virtual Red Kettle, please feel free to donate to ours:

    Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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