Donations to the Glen Burnie Salvation Army are down this year, partly because there aren't enough volunteers to ring bells at the organization's kettles, said Capt. Diane Shingleton.
Money taken in during the North County kettle drive accounts for a large part of the group's funds, she said. The group collected $65,000 last year and had hoped to garner donations of $75,000 this year.
"We're going to have to really do a lot of praying to get volunteers and reach that goal," said Captain Shingleton.
The kettle drive looks as if "it's going to be down every day until Christmas unless we get some volunteers," she said.
The campaign started the day after Thanksgiving and will run until Dec. 23. To date, the chapter has raised about $33,000, Captain Shingleton, commander of the Glen Burnie office, said this week.
The organization usually has enough volunteers to staff the kettles on the weekends, but not on weekdays, she said. Shifts are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The money collected through the kettle drives supports meal programs and helps people pay overdue utility bills, thus avoiding shut-offs.
The group also makes holiday food baskets and runs a year-round food pantry. The organization might have to trim some of its programs if enough volunteers cannot be found to help it raise the necessary money, Captain Shingleton said.
Yesterday, Ernest J. Stone Sr., 72, his silver hair tucked underneath his cap, stood at his station beside a kettle in the Glen Burnie Mall.
Occasionally, a shopper would stop long enough to donate a few coins or dollars before hurrying on to do more holiday buying.
Mr. Stone, a member of the Salvation Army, said he worked his first kettle when he was a 15-year-old growing up in Tunkhannock, Pa. He moved to Maryland in 1953.
He said the Salvation Army has helped him through lean times with food and emotional support.
"I don't mind helping them," he said. "They'll help anybody in need."
For more information on helping the Glen Burnie Salvation Army, call (410) 768-0477.