Salvation Army Wilkes-Barre needs help reaching campaign fundraising goal

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A familiar fundraising campaign this time of year needs a lot of help.

The Salvation Army Wilkes-Barre is coming up way short of its campaign fundraising goal. The sound of Salvation Army Red Kettle bells is synonymous with the holiday season. The fundraising campaign is typically the organization’s biggest each year.

“When they hear the bells ringing, that triggers something in their brains and they say you know what, I want to help,” volunteer John Maday said.

“When I see stuff like that I always feel like you have to stop to give, especially what’s going on with COVID, it’s nice to just share,” donor Paula Rodriguez said.

But this year the Red Kettle campaign faces a serious struggle. Just 12 kettle stands are in use. That’s less than half.

No bell ringing equals no donations. The Salvation Army has resorted to even paying some volunteers $10 an hour to run a kettle stand.

“It’s been a tough season and some of them aren’t even bringing in what we’re paying them,” Salvation Army Lt. Ismael Ortiz said.

And this year, Ortiz says the need is even greater. Last year, his chapter helped 800 families. This year, it’s 1,100. As quickly as the food is packed, it’s out the door. It’s the same thing with Christmas toys to help families in need.

It may seem like they have toys to the excess here but that’s not the case. 900 of the 1,100 families this Salvation Army chapter is helping signed up for toys. That’s 3,500 kids.

Kristen Riscart was picking out toys for her 11-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter. When asked what she and her family would do if that help wasn’t around, Riscart said: “Uh, I don’t know. I’m a single mother of two. So, I struggle.”

Ortiz doesn’t want it to come to that for any local family in need but he needs more Red Kettle volunteers and more generosity.

“Anytime you see a red kettle, that extra dollar, that extra change you have in your pocket to please put that in there. Please, we plead with our community to please put that in there,” Ortiz said.

The Salvation Army Wilkes-Barre has reached only 55 percent of its $100,000 campaign goal. The Red Kettle campaign continues through Christmas Eve.

For more information about donating and volunteering, you can call 570-824-8741 or you can email Lt. Ortiz at

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