Salvation Army sets sights high for kettle drive

Norm Hecimovich presents a $1,000 check from the Austin Area Shrine Club & Oriental Band to the Salvation Army’s Lt. David Amick on the lawn of Hy-Vee Friday. The event kicked off the Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign, which has a goal of $170,000. Jason Schoonover/jason.schoonover@austindailyherald.com

Norm Hecimovich presents a $1,000 check from the Austin Area Shrine Club & Oriental Band to the Salvation Army’s Lt. David Amick on the lawn of Hy-Vee Friday. The event kicked off the Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign, which has a goal of $170,000. Jason Schoonover/jason.schoonover@austindailyherald.com

The Salvation Army is aiming high in its 2015 red kettle drive for a good reason.

The Masonic Lodge, Austin Area Shrine Club and Osman Oriental Band helped the Salvation Army kickoff the campaign Friday with a $1,000 check. The Salvation Army set its goal at $170,000 this year, and Lt. David Amick said the group is aiming high as it moves ahead on its plans to build or relocate its offices and food shelf to a new site. It raised more than $150,000 last year.

While the city has discussed acquiring the Salvation Army’s current building at 409 First Ave. NE as part of its flood mitigation efforts, the Salvation Army is looking to a new facility mainly because it needs additional space.

“We need lots more space,” Amick said. “Our programs are suffering. We’re rolling over in everything right now.”

“We just don’t have space for anything,” he added. “We can’t grow at all.”

But on Friday, the Salvation Army had its eyes focused on the red kettle drive. The kettles will be out starting Monday. The Salvation Army will have two kettles a piece at Hy-Vee and Walmart, along with kettles at Shopko, Sterling Main Street, Runnings, MarketPlaceFoods, and one added at Ace Hardware in December.

Money raised through the red kettles benefits the Salvation Arm’s food shelf, rent and utilities, programs and more.

“It’s extremely important … It’s about a quarter of our budget,” Amick said.

While the Salvation Army has seen its need increase the last few summers, Amick said it’s been a bit closer to normal in recent months with school back in session. However, the need continues year round, Amick said.

“All of our programs need the help throughout the year,” Amick said. “This is our one big time shot to raise that money.”

The kettle program dates back several decades in Austin, and the Masonic Lodge, Shrine Club and Osman Oriental Band have been involved at least since the 1960s. The groups traditionally make the first donation each year.

On Dec. 4, the volunteers will ring bells throughout Austin starting around 5 a.m. and continue through about midnight.

“We go get money,” said Brad Stout, president of the Shrine Club and Oriental Band and a master with the Austin Masons.

With the help of matching funds through Masonoic Charities in Minneapolis, the three Austin charitable groups gave just more than $30,000 to the kettle campaign last year, which was an increase over past years.

Volunteers can signup to ring bells for the Salvation Army at www.registertoring.com, and Amick said the more people who volunteer to ring will mean fewer people they have to pay to ring.

Amick said the Salvation Army has a site picked out for its new building, but it hasn’t been approved by the Salvation Army’s state office. Amick said that likely won’t happen until next year. The current site doesn’t have enough space in its food shelf to adequately store the food.

In January, Amick said he’ll likely push the state office to approve the plans. Amick said he’d like to at least have a groundbreaking sometime next year to coincide with the Salvation Army’s 120th anniversary.

“We’re in the early stages of the process,” he said.

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