On target: Salvation Army likely hit goal thanks to anonymous donor

Published 10:01 am Monday, December 23, 2013

Lt. David Amick is thrilled.

Amick is pretty sure the Austin Salvation Army made its goal for the first time in awhile, as this weekend an anonymous donor likely put them over the top of their $60,000 goal. Amick said Austinites donated $7,000 to kettles on Friday, and he’s still counting Saturday’s total, but a group of anonymous donors will match all donations to the annual kettle drive on Friday and Saturday, up to $25,000 in every city with a Salvation Army station in Minnesota and North Dakota.

“I can’t say I’m 100 percent sure, but I’m feeling very positive we made our goal,” Amick said Monday morning. “I’d like to thank all of Austin for its continued support. This was an awesome challenge, and we appreciate everyone working with us.”

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Reaching the goal means the Austin Salvation Army will be able to extend many of its programs and help out more people this year, he said, adding the need is definitely there.

As of Thursday, the local Salvation Army was at $37,000, but the $7,000 on Friday, plus the $7,000 match, means it at least had $51,000 by Saturday morning.

Across the region, donations had been down 20 to 30 percent compared with last year until a small group of anonymous donors pooled their resources to create $2 million in matching funds.

Final numbers won’t be tallied until early next week, but Salvation Army officials said they were now optimistic about meeting their Twin Cities fundraising goal of $10.8 million.

“We were very worried,” Salvation Army spokeswoman Annette Bauer said. She attributed the drop to a late Thanksgiving that gave bell-ringers a late start, followed by bitterly cold weather that thinned the ranks of volunteers for several crucial days.

The charity scrambled to get the word out about the available matching funds and succeeded far beyond expectations. Friday’s kettle donations in the Twin Cities alone were $194,000, up $21,000 from the same day last year.

In Rochester, Think Bank also offered to match up to $10,000 in donations for Friday and Saturday, meaning a dollar stuffed in a kettle there became a $3 donation.

“In baseball, you know, a triple play is pretty rare — and this is pretty rare,” Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede said.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.