PORTLAND — Despite doubling the number of bell ringers it normally deploys for its annual Christmas Kettle campaign, the Portland Corps of the Salvation Army again fell short of its fundraising goal this holiday season.

Maj. Ronda Ferreira, the campaign coordinator for greater Portland, said the shortfall, which is estimated to be about $7,000, shouldn’t have a negative impact on Salvation Army programs.

“The estimated shortfall will not have too much of an impact for 2019 (because) we can cover (it) with some adjustments to the budget,” Ferreira said.

But if not for “the positive response to our calls for more volunteer bell ringers and online donations,” she added, “(it) would have been a different story.”

In 2017 the corps’ red kettle campaign fell short by more than $28,500, Ferreira said. The organization, though, was still able to help about 5,000 local people in need for 2018, either through holiday gifts and meals or other forms of assistance.

The red kettle fundraising goal for 2018 was $190,000, which Ferreira said is “the figure we had budgeted to not only cover the assistance we provide over the holiday season, but also as a foundation to support certain (other) services and programs we provide year-round.”

The Portland Corps put out a call for additional volunteer bell ringers in mid-November. At the time, Ferreira said the kettle campaign “is still our most significant fundraiser and is most important to the people we serve.”

The goal was to place red kettles at 22 locations across southern Maine through Dec. 24, 2018.

“We saw a substantial increase in interest (in bell ringing) this year once media reports got the word out (about the need),” Ferreira said this week.

In 2017, she said, the Portland Corps had approximately 40 volunteer units, which included individuals, as well as community groups, business volunteers and families.

For the just-completed 2018 campaign, there were 83 volunteer units, according to Ferreira.

She said not meeting the fundraising goal was not just about having “an adequate number of bell ringers, but also having volunteer bell ringers at certain times of the day.”

In addition, Ferreira said, the weather was also “the biggest obstacle to meeting goal. We had days of freezing temperatures and heavy downpours, which not only meant that volunteers could not be outside, but it also kept (donors) at home.”

Overall, the Portland Corps was able to raise more than $183,000 through the kettle campaign, as well through online donations and other gifts.

“Thanks to the generous nature of the people and businesses of the greater Portland community, (we raised) a total that will ensure the Salvation Army can continue to offer its many services and programs to those in need,” she said.

Although the Christmas campaign is over, Ferreira said people can still donate to the Salvation Army by going online to nne.salvationarmy.org/portland-me or by mailing checks to P.O. Box 3575, Portland, ME, 04014.

Ferreira said the kettle campaign could not succeed without the volunteers who ring the bells.

“I was overwhelmed by the way the community responded to our calls for volunteers from late November to just days before Christmas,” she said.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 780-9097 or [email protected]. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

The Portland Corps of the Salvation Army fell just short of its fundraising goal during its annual Christmas Red Kettle campaign. However, the Army was able to double the number of its volunteer bell ringers, which made a difference.

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