Strong finish for Holiday giving...

What started out as a comparatively weak holiday season for giving finished up being a record breaking year according to Envoy Craig Fanning of the Salvation Army on the Kenai Peninsula. "I admit I was a little nervous when the season started, we knew the needs would be greater and that we would have to make up for a few large donations that wouldn't be coming this year and our Kettles were down the first few weeks compared to other years. Then I think when folks got their own needs taken care of they started coming through for us at the Kettles and we broke our goal from last year by about 5% and for the first time our Kettle drive broke the $40,000.00 ceiling which was a record on the Peninsula," reported Fanning.

In the annual Rotary Club bell ringing competition there were three winners this year and all from the Central Peninsula, "I had a small club division, a medium club division, and a large club division and all three local clubs won their divisions," laughed Fanning, "It was amazing the three Rotary clubs together raised more than $13,000 which is more than $4,000 more than their average and at least $3,000 more than they have ever done before collectively. Rotarians accounted for more than 221 volunteer Kettle hours which was more than half of the 400 bell ringing hours totaled this year," he said. In the end the annual golden bell trophy that goes to the club with the highest total was retained for another year by the Soldotna Rotary Club. "It's something our members feel good about, they have fun doing it and of course we got a great start from Rotarian Charlie Wiemer and the FNBA check, but even Hobo Jim came by our Kettle this year so we are proud to have the bell for another year," said Soldotna club president Mark Hill. The contributions given at the Kettle this year went to serve 400 local families, more than 500 children, and the distribution of 4,000 gifts according to Fanning.