Someone, something to help area Salvation Armies big-time

Claudette Bumgarner donates to a Salvation Army kettle Thursday at Hy-Vee in Austin. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Claudette Bumgarner donates to a Salvation Army kettle Thursday at Hy-Vee in Austin. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Donor will match each city station up to $25,000 in two-day push

Lt. David Amick had a clear sense of urgency in his voice, almost panic, on Thursday morning.

But he had to get the word out quickly, and it was very good news.

Somebody, or some company, is going to match all donations to the Salvation Army’s annual kettle drive on Friday and Saturday, up to $25,000 in every city there is a Salvation Army station in Minnesota and North Dakota. With an offer like that, Amick knows Austin can reach its $60,000 goal, which at the moment has been lagging: $37,000 as of last check. This offer could change the outlook significantly.

“Excited, just extremely happy, pretty positive that if things go well and if donations come through like I know they will, we’re going to make our goal,” he said about

Charles Van House rings bells for the Salvation Army Thursday at HyVee. Van House was also ringing bells on behalf of the Austin Masonic Lodge. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Charles Van House rings bells for the Salvation Army Thursday at Hy-Vee. Van House was also ringing bells on behalf of the Austin Masonic Lodge. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

his reaction.

The news, reached Amick from Salvation Army division headquarters on Thursday morning. Still, Amick won’t say who the generous donor is. That’s because he doesn’t even know, as the source has remained anonymous. Regardless, Amick said he was going to make the rounds Thursday afternoon to area businesses, informing them just how far their dollars can stretch on Friday and Saturday. Bellringers and donors alike had no clue about the developments in Thursday morning, but they too were excited.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” said Charles Van House, who was ringing the bell Thursday morning at Hy-Vee’s west entrance. “People that step up and do these things, it’s absolutely wonderful.”

With that in mind, Van House and his fellow bell ringer at the east entrance, Otto Volkert, know just how much dollars can stretch on the two-day push. Both men were ringing on behalf of the Austin Masons, which is also matching funds when Masons are ringing the bells.

Claudette Bumgarner may just donate even more after hearing the news, and she certainly wouldn’t have to.

She stopped a good distance from Van House’s kettle on Thursday, dug through her purse and pulled out two neatly folded dollar bills for the kettle. The woman has already done her part even more, as she dumps dollars and change in the kettles frequently when she is shopping. Over the years, that can add up, but Bumgarner also wrote a check directly to the Salvation Army as well, as she has done in the past.

Bumgarner always give money, and it’s almost a simple afterthought. Yet she realizes the enormity of such a match, and knows the loose pocket change will actually make a noticeable difference this weekend.

“I think it’s wonderful that they do that,” she said about the anonymous match on Friday and Saturday. “It gives people even more incentive to help. It should.”

The Salvation Army’s annual kettle drive ends Christmas Eve. Bell ringers and kettles in Austin are stationed at Shopko, Walmart, Hy-Vee, Walgreens, Sterling Main Street and Jim’s MarketPlace Foods. The drive is the Salvation Army’s main fundraising effort of the year.

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