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Salvation Army efforts ring in important season for nonprofits

CaptaNancy Mead introduces Senator Michael Nolan as SalvatiArmy ElgCorps celebrate start holiday seastheir Red Kettle Campaign Kick-Off Ceremony OtEngineering Carpentersville.

Captain Nancy Mead introduces Senator Michael Nolan as Salvation Army Elgin Corps celebrate the start of the holiday season at their Red Kettle Campaign Kick-Off Ceremony at Otto Engineering in Carpentersville. November 14, 2012. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 19, 2012 11:57AM

CARPENTERSVILLE — The formally attired Dundee-Crown High School jazz and choral ensembles performed standards and carols, and, of course, the captain’s bell eventually rang.

So began the holiday season for the Salvation Army Elgin Corps, which officially kicked off its Red Kettle Campaign Wednesday evening in the ballroom on the Otto Engineering campus in Carpentersville.

Recently re-elected 22nd District state Sen. Michael Noland, who is chairman of the effort, was first to clang the big bell.

“One of every five children in Illinois, in America, go to bed hungry every night, but not because of people in this room,” Noland said prior to his chime time.

Noland added that he is proud of the Salvation Army and those who give to the cause, thus combating hunger not only during the holidays but all year.

Salvation Army Capt. Frank Mead said the Elgin Corps Community Center on Douglas Avenue provides food for 200-250 families on Fridays this time a year and assists another 50 families at the Carpentersville location in the Meadowdale Shopping Center. Mead said the organization would be giving out 200 turkeys today in advance of Thanksgiving.

According to information provided by the Salvation Army’s Chicago office, the Christmastime campaign generates nearly 70 percent of the funds used year-round to provide its programs and services to people in need. It accounts for about half of the money collected in the Elgin area, Mead said.

Mead said the local effort’s goal is to raise $325,000, up from the $255,000 raised last year. The increase is due in part to the Elgin Corps Community Center covering a wider area this year with the drive, which traces its roots back to 1891 and the San Francisco Bay area.

Mead said between 40 and 45 locations will have kettles and bell ringers this season in towns that include Carpentersville, East and West Dundee, Elgin, Hoffman Estates, Huntley, Schaumburg and South Elgin. Those sites are set to include area Wal-Mart stores, Big Lots in Elgin, and in front of the Macy’s at Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee.

Wednesday Chuck Stoffel, who works at Revcor in Carpentersville, was among those signing up for a shift, with his set for Dec. 5 outside the West Dundee Walgreens. People also can volunteer to adopt a family for which they will buy gifts and get involved in a toy distribution program that runs Dec. 19-20.

To volunteer for Salvation Army holiday programs, people should call 847-741-2304.

Last year, several hundred people in the Elgin area gave their time to ring the bells, and volunteers are needed again, Mead said. About 100 people started out being paid to man the kettles, too, with that number settling at 50-60 ringers, Mead said.

Those who are paid make minimum wage ($8.25 per hour) and have who come to the Salvation Army for services. Mead said kettles average $25-$30 per hour in collections.

With more and more people using credit and debit cards and making electronic transactions in lieu of cash, the Salvation Army has set up a way for people to donate through their mobile phones. By texting “manger” to 80888, gifts of $5 or more will go directly to the Elgin branch of the Salvation Army.

Mead also is working to set up “virtual kettles” online, where people and companies can put icons for the Elgin branch of the Army on Facebook and Web pages through which donations can be made.

According to the Salvation Army, about 30 million Americans receive assistance from evangelical Christian group each year through services that include providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. The Army claims 89 cents of every $1 raised is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide.

Giving season

The Salvation Army’s annual bell ringing exemplifies how important year-end fundraising drives is to nonprofit organizations, efforts that are amplified in the slowly recovering economy.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently noted that experts project an increase in collective giving this year of just 1 or 2 percent above last year. The Chronicle reports that some organizations are concerned about what impact Hurricane Sandy relief efforts and the recent election season might have on donations, while others say donations might be up among the wealthy who are concerned about changes to the tax code that might be made next year that would limit charitable deductions.

According to published accounts, the annual report on philanthropy compiled by the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy claims that charitable contributions hit $298.4 billion in 2011, which is 4 percent more than 2010 but 11 percent below 2007 levels, prior to the recession.

The report stated 73 percent of donations come from individuals, and that 117 million households made donations in 2011. Half of all giving is made during the end-of-the-year holiday season.

The Indiana University Center on Philanthropy also completed the 2012 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, which looked at giving practices in homes with incomes above $200,000 per year and/or net worth of more than $1,000,000, excluding the monetary value of their homes.

According to that study, 95.4 percent of high net worth households gave to charity in 2011. The findings showed a 3 percent decline in the rate of giving by these households from 2009, but 88.5 percent of high net worth individuals volunteered their time in 2011, up from 78.7 percent in 2009.

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