According to Craig Fanning of the Salvation Army in Kenai, Kettle donations this year were up $6,600 over last year for a total raised from the bell-ringing coming in at approximately $25,000. "That's a great effort for a community of this size," said Fanning. That allowed the Salvation Army to help 407 families this Christmas with food and gifts, 35 more families than a year ago, or an additional 223 people. The holiday Kettles provide about one third of the Salvation Army's overall budget.
Local groups such as the Kenai and Soldotna Rotary Clubs, the Catholic Church, and Central Emergency Services assist the traditional fundraising effort. Members of those organizations volunteer to do bell ringing on certain days during the holidays. Overall, 150 volunteers contributed 550 hours of bell ringing for the Salvation Army this season.
The spirited competition between the Kenai and Soldotna Rotary Clubs garnered nearly $3,000 from the two-day challenge. It's a Rotary club activity that has been going on for nearly 20 years, and when Kenai organized the second Rotary club on the Peninsula, the Salvation Army created a trophy bell that is awarded each year to the club that raises the most money during the volunteer effort.
The bell had remained housed at the Soldotna club until last year when Kenai won the coveted bell, and bragging rights for the first time, "We don't really know what happened last year, but the sign up sheet I guess never got passed around and we missed the opportunity, but we held Kenai's winning streak to one year in a row this year," said Soldotna Rotary Club president Ed Krohn. "It was a great year, and the clubs really had a lot of fun with the challenge this year, which translates into us being able to serve more families through out the year," said Fanning, who is also a Kenai Rotarian.
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