Ever since the new millennium the Kenai and Soldotna Rotary Clubs have had a friendly competition to see which club can raise the most money for the local Salvation Army by voluntarily standing and ringing bells at the Salvation Army Kettle. The traditional Kettle drive is the major fund raiser for the Salvation Army and to encourage the clubs rivalry Envoy Craig Fanning created a bell trophy that goes to the winning club each year. Last year the Kenai Rotary Club took the bell away from Soldotna, but according to Fanning this year Soldotna will be bringing the trophy and bragging rights back to Soldotna, "It was a great competition this year with all three Rotary Clubs participating; Kenai, Soldotna and the Kenai River club, and while Soldotna will be happy to know they will be getting the bell back, all three clubs will be happier to know that together they raised over $9,000 for us with just their efforts which amounted to right at 300 hours of volunteer Kettle standing time. That is really valuable to us and greatly appreciated by the community," said Fanning.
According to Fanning it was a record year for the Salvation Army in regards to the number of local families served, "We served about 560 families this year which relates to about 1,500 children and we gave out some 4,000 toys this year which translates to a good 100 more families than we have seen on the Peninsula before, and these were new families that have never come to us before," said Fanning. Overall however, the Kettle drive was down about eight percent says Fanning, "That left us about $3,000 under our goal for the year. Toward the end of the season however, the folks really rallied for us because it was looking like we could be 12 to 15 percent down for the year, but the last week before Christmas folks really did step up to the Kettle in a big way bringing our total up to just about $30,000, so overall it was a very big year for us," he said. Fanning says the overall decline in Kettle giving may be due to folks using less cash for purchases these days and therefore having less change in their pockets to put in the Kettles, "No doubt it was our lowest coin count ever, down by two thirds from last year, so in the future we're thinking of things like on line Kettles or other electronic methods such as the Pick, Click & Give program that folks can do when they register for their PFD this year, and of course anyone is welcome to stop by anytime with a contribution at the store in Kenai and it'll be greatly appreciated anytime," added Fanning.
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