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Kettle campaign comes up short

Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen, left, laughs as he chats with Kathy German-Olson, second from left, and Majors David and Bonnie Clark after presenting a check to the Salvation Army from a recent fundraiser by city and county employees. German-Olson won use of Hagen’s time share, donated as an incentive by the mayor and his wife, Lois. (Jed Carlson/

Salvation Army red kettles are coming up short across Wisconsin this Christmas season. 

Milwaukee County’s goal is $3.5 million, and they’re almost a million dollars short of that. Salvation Army Major Steve Yoder says numbers are down statewide. He’s concerned yet hopeful.

“In other places they’re much more hard hit and we’re sorry for that. But we’ve watched the kindness and generosity of the people throughout Wisconsin before and, well, they always come up trumps and we believe as the plea is put out, people will do their part because they know it’s meeting the needs of people in need. So it’s serving suffering humanity together.”

The Superior Salvation Army is one of those places hard hit. Major Dave Clark says their goal is $200,000, and they’re not even close. But like Yoder, he’s hopeful.

“Things are picking up,” Clark said. “The buckets, the red kettles are a little fuller. We’re getting a little through the mail. That’s better. But being short $97,000 is a long ways to go to make it up.”

To help in that effort, city and county employees held a fundraiser the week of Dec. 2 to raise money for the Salvation Army.

As added incentive, Mayor Bruce Hagen and his wife Lois sweetened the pot by donating a time share for an employee involved in the fundraising. Kathy German-Olson of the Douglas County Health and Human Services Department won the time share.

Clark says they have had a few pleasant surprises. One person dropped two $100 bills in the kettle and another slipped a $1,000 check in the slot. Yoder says spare change or whatever is welcome.

“Anyone who’s able to put in a few coins or a dollar or put a check in there or we’re always looking for the gold Krugerrand or whatever it is.”

Yoder and Clark say a big reason for the lag in giving is the late Thanksgiving, shortening the Christmas bell-ringing season by a week coupled with severe weather in the first part of the month.

The Superior Telegram contributed to this report.