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The Salvation Army's annual kettle drive is down in donations even as needs rise.

Salvation Army in Urgent Need of Funds to Meet $60K Goal

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A perfect storm of unprecedented need and far fewer kettle donations has the Salvation Army seeking help to rescue Christmas.
Donations through the charity organization's red kettles in Pittsfield are currently down by 70 percent compared to last year and it's struggling to meet its fundraising target by about $33,000. 
"We went into the season honestly unsure if we were even going to be able to ring the bell," Captain Justin Barter, corps officer in Pittsfield, said Tuesday. "We were grateful that we could ring the bell but the numbers are still significantly down."
Now in its 130th year, the kettle campaign launched two months earlier than usual because of increased needs. It raised just over $27,000 as of Monday with this year's goal being $60,000 raised by Dec. 24.
COVID-19 has created a larger need for services provided by the Salvation Army: it's served more than 14 million meals in the state since March and it expects to serve 150 percent more people this holiday season. 
Though the novel coronavirus has created an increase in need, it has also reduced the number of red kettles that can put out on street corners and at store entrances.  
Nationwide, the Salvation Army expects as much as a 50 percent decrease in funds raised through its Rescue Christmas Red Kettles campaign because of customers carrying less cash, the closure of many retail stores where kettles traditionally stand, an increase in online shopping, and increased unemployment and debt.
Barter said numbers are also drastically down for local help as many bell ringers have pre-existing conditions that put them in the high-risk category for COVID-19.
Heather MacFarlane, director of communications, marketing, and public relations, said some people who used to be donors are now requesting assistance.
"When COVID-19 struck, we anticipated that it could be an extremely difficult year for multiple reasons," she said.
According to Barter, the numbers for assistance through the organization's food pantry have been record-breaking for months, reflecting the hard time that citizens are experiencing.
In 2019, the Salvation Army served just over 3 million meals to people in need and that number skyrocketed to a staggering 14 million meals just between the months of March and November.
"Although I'm concerned that donations are down, I remain hopeful we can still make our fundraising goal this year," wrote Captain Marsha Barter. "This community has a history of putting its hands and feet in service of its prayers and supporting the Salvation Army's efforts to help our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. Even as we face a tsunami of need, which we don't anticipate diminishing for many, many months, I believe our community will rally around us again this year."
Donations can be made to the Salvation Army online or by check to 298 West St., Pittsfield, MA 01201. A recurring of donation of $25 means 240 meals to those most vulnerable, 11 nights of shelter for those living on the streets, 12 years of Christmas presents for one child.

Tags: donations,   Salvation Army,   

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Pittsfield 4th of July Parade Canceled Again

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield's famed Fourth of July Parade has fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic once more.
On Friday morning, Mayor Linda Tyer delivered "breaking news" that the parade will be canceled this year for the second time since 1977. It was also canceled last year due to the novel coronavirus.
"It's disappointing to have to put another pause on the Fourth of July parade, but I just don't think that we can safely hold it this year," Tyer told local radio station Live 95.9.
Though large outdoor gatherings of 250 people and parades will be permitted at 50 percent capacity beginning on May 29, Tyer said this does not help the parade because there is no way of determining the capacity and then limiting it to half. The parade regularly brings thousands of people to North Street and involves hundreds of participants and volunteers.
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