They say there’s strength in numbers. Dozens of Rochester fire fighters just might have proved it Friday, as they collected donations for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign at the corner of State and West Main Street. “It’s tradition. I’ve been doing this for 42 years,” explained retired Rochester fire fighter, Doug Lill. Lill retired seven years ago. But, he said he wouldn’t miss collecting donations with the department for anything. “We see the Salvation Army at fires helping people. So, we witness the good that they do.” Fellow retired fire fighter Bruce Celento agrees. “Hopefully, we can get a bunch of money together for them and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The Salvation Army needs this kind of support more than ever. This year, Major Judy Hart said the nonprofit lost a more than $80,000 federal grant. That’s something they’ve relied on for the last 15 years. “That a huge impact in our operating budget to be able to continue the services that we’ve always done,” she explained.
The Red Kettle campaign has also fallen short of its $500,000 goal for the last two years. “We had some bitter cold days and so it was hard to get bell ringers to volunteer. The year before was our shortest time we could have between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We lost five days.”
So far, things look good this year. They’ve raised over $326,000. That’s more than last year at this time. Those donations help fund year round services for those in need in our area. “None of us knows when we might be in a position where we need someone to give us a little bit of hope and that’s what I call this an opportunity to give a little hope to someone,” Hart said.
That’s why volunteers are so crucial. Spots are still available. To sign up to be a volunteer, click here.