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Salvation Army effort comes up short

Springfield charity rallies after bad weather, tough economy slowed donations.

The results are in from the Springfield/Clark County Salvation Army’s local kettle drive for 2013. And although the numbers are not good, the late response to early losses due to weather has left local first-year captain Justin Caldwell impressed with the charitable heart of people in Clark County.

“We ended up with $132,041.88,” said Caldwell. “We were hoping to be up around $158, 000, which is what they raised last year. So it is quite significantly down.

“It’s been a tough year for us. This weather has really stripped us down.”

There were two prime December weekends, during which a normal day can net $6,000-$7,000, when snow limited both the Friday and Saturday efforts. But after Caldwell sounded the alarm to the public, the response was good.

“When the word got out, there were some people who really gave generously,” said Caldwell. “We could have been in a worse position for sure. For a little while, we were looking at being around $110,000 when it was all said and done.”

That would have meant a nearly $50,000 deficit, which Caldwell said would have been devastating.

“Actually, $132,000 is quite a feat in a town the size of Springfield,” he added. “And the comeback ability was very impressive. Our phones were really ringing off the hook at the end. It was a wild Christmas.”

Caldwell says there may be more help coming.

“We don’t have our totals for our mail appeal yet,” he said. “I feel as though our mail appeal is going to make up some of the difference. If not, we’ll have to look at the fine details. There are other ways that we can cut a little more, in terms of picking people up and how we get food. We already do a lot of that, but there are ways to do more.”

Caldwell, who acknowledged that many Salvation Army units across the country are facing devastating shortfalls, says a lot of the deficit can be chalked up to tough economic time.

“I consider ourselves blessed,” he said. “We could be really far off and really wringing our hands about what we are going to do.”

That has left Caldwell, who along with his wife Evelyn took the Springfield post in June of 2013, impressed and uplifted despite the hard times.

“It does something to you to know that the community is there for you,” he said. “There are still a lot of people who look for opportunities to help. One guy went online and bought $1,000 of footballs and basketballs.

“It’s efforts like that that keep us going.”

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