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Goal missed, but bell-ringing still successful

The Salvation Army held the previous year’s line but fell shortof its fundraising goals over Christmas, missing the target by afew thousand dollars.

Brookhaven-area coordinator Wesley Kent said Salvation Armyvolunteers raised $29,899.72 by ringing bells in front of Wal-Martthroughout the Christmas holidays, a worthy total during a two-yearrecession but short of the city’s $35,000 goal. The area total,raised primarily in Brookhaven and McComb, was $66,774.73, morethan $13,000 short of the targeted $80,000 mark.

“It’s better to have a challenging goal and not meet it than itis to have a poor goal and meet it,” Kent said. “Your goal ought tobe enough to make you work for it, and that’s what we try to doevery year.”

Despite the lower-than-expected totals, Christmas 2009 likelysaw more Salvation Army volunteering than ever before.

Kent said a record 150 volunteers rang in shifts, almost doublethe number of bell-ringers who stepped forward in 2008. Together,they collected an average of $1,272 per day in the big redkettles.

The money raised during Christmas will spent on families in needover the Salvation Army’s local five-county area, which includesAmite, Franklin, Lincoln, Pike and Walthall counties.

As always, the bell-ringing season not only raised money, butgenerated love, fellowship and warm stories for everyoneinvolved.

“We had so many interesting stories,” Kent said.

Kent said one unidentified Salvation Army giver shared hischildhood Christmas story – a 6-year-old from a poor family notexpecting much for Christmas. A Salvation Army volunteer visitedhis family and told him Santa Claus was so busy he’d asked theSalvation Army to take up the slack. Christmas was merry and theman has donated every year since.

Another unnamed giver supports the Salvation Army every yearbecause the organization helped find him transportation home for afurlough from the U.S. Army to attend his father’s funeral. Anothercarried on her annual tradition of donating her coin jar.

“We couldn’t even pour it in the kettle,” Kent said.

Overall, given most families’ tight money situations, Kent wasimpressed with the drive in 2009.

“We see people come through with their shopping cart with verylittle in it, and you know they don’t have much money, but theyalways put a little in,” he said. “It may be a quarter, it may be adollar. My prayer in the beginning was the ringers would ringjoyously, the givers would give generously and the money would beused in a way that’s pleasing to the Lord.”