Lee Isensee, Barnes County Salvation Army chairman, feels the organization is blessed based on donations so far this year, but with increased demand contrasted with last year, he hopes there will be enough donations to meet the need.
The local organization needs both bell ringers and donations.
“We feel so blessed for all the people who ring for us, but we need 500 (spots filled) and have 300 left to fill,” Isensee said Wednesday.
The mission goal of $32,000 is $10,000 greater than last year’s goal, a result of tremendous success last year combined with great need, said Isensee.
Last year the campaign raised double its goal of $22,000.
This year’s bell-ringing campaign started Oct. 23, and its fiscal year began Oct. 1. “Last year in our first four days we got $4,247, and this year we got $4,385 in the first four days. We really don’t know what’s going on in the community,” he said.
As of last week Isensee said the local organization had spent $7,500 worth of aid, more than it had taken in. “We are behind on donations.
Last year we got about $45,000 in donations, with $32,000 in bills and change – the rest was in bigger checks. We have been giving out over $1,000 per week in aid this year. We hope we get big donations this year, but we just don’t know.”
Isensee said as of Wednesday the local organization helped people in 92 different instances. Those transactions, as Isensee calls them, included nine transients. “The rest of the money went to people needing help in Valley City.”
Isensee said the total of those helped included 106 adults and 159 children.
Aid the Salvation Army provides includes groceries – “a big one,” lodging, health care, rent, utilities and transportation. He said 90 percent of the families being helped are working people. “Your car can break down, you can have a sick kid and have to be off work a few days, and the lights get turned off. You can’t afford to buy groceries or pay bills.”
Said Isensee, “We feel so blessed with all the help the community has given the Salvation Army, but we’re overwhelmed because the need is so much greater this year than last year. We’re not desperate, but with gratitude for what they (donors) have done, the need is so strong. We hope and expect the community will come through.”
Last year one donation the Salvation Army received in Valley City was a stack of a $100, $50, $20, $10, $5 and $1 bills stapled together.
Isensee said included with the donation was a Bible verse, “He who shuts his ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in his own time of need.” Isensee said the saying kind of sums it up, and people who give, give with the same heart. We are all created equal in the eyes of God, but we are not all dealt the same hand at birth.”
Many of the people the Salvation Army has helped in the past are now helping the Salvation Army in its fundraising campaign. “Four people we helped last year get on their feet are helping us ring the bell this year. The first person to put money in the kettle this year was a (formerly) homeless person we helped last year and we got back on his feet.”
Those who want to volunteer for spots can call bell-ringing campaign co-chairmen Joe Lunde at 845-1974, or Dave Carlsrud at 840-7291.