The Salvation Army-Alton Corps Red Kettle season officially came to a close Thursday as 2015 Kettle Coordinator Greg Gelzinnis came down from the lift that had been his home since Wednesday afternoon.
Just before returning to solid ground, Gelzinnis changed the “official thermometer” marking the campaign’s progress to $77,380.
“We still have today’s kettles to count and I am confident that we are going to see a big number,” Gelzinnis reminded those assembled.
“We saw historic numbers coming in today,” said Lt. Teri Ellison, who was with the counting team. “In fact, the level of giving by our community this entire Christmas week has been simply amazing.”
“We have always been excited to get one gold coin, and this season we have received two, along with two large silver coins,” Lt. Bryan Ellison said. “It has just been magical.”
Christmas week started with Monday’s count from the weekend, which brought in over $14,000 and took the campaign total from $50,087 to just over $64,000, and then Monday’s total was another $3,233 (when typical Mondays are less than $1,000) taking the week’s beginning total up to almost $67,500.
“While I was up in the lift, the numbers kept rising just as I was,” Gelzinnis said. “The community helped us add another $9,000 just this week in three days.”
“We just can’t thank the community enough for their support; they really came through,” Tree of Lights Chair and Alton Corps Advisory Board Chairman Kevin Botterbush said. “I also want to say a special thanks to the Woodman family at Woodman Collision Center for their counter kettle matching gift program that helped raise over $1,500, and to all of the advisory board members that rang bells during the campaign.”
Bryan Ellison said the Red Kettle total is at a historic $83,000.
“This is $16,000 over last year’s total of $67,000 and is the largest total that the Alton Corps has had in years using all volunteer bell ringers,” he said.
While the Alton Corps staff and leadership team are pleased with this amount, Gelzinnis said “all indications are, from the strong giving by the community, that they want to light their star.
“As a leadership team, we have decided to extend this year’s season just to the end of the month (Dec. 31) to allow those who still want to give the opportunity to do so.”
“We do know of several business gifts that we are due to receive that were not able to be made by the 24th, and in fact, we received two $100 donations (after today’s count was completed) as we were returning the kettle stands back to the Alby Street headquarters … and so we believe that there may be others that do wish to contribute before the end of the year,” Bryan Ellison said Wednesday.
People who wish to make a gift to the campaign can mail donations to the Salvation Army-Alton Corps; 525 Alby St., Alton, IL 62002. Mailed donations must be postmarked by Dec. 31. Donations can also be made online at www.onlineredkettle.org/alton and also need to be made by Dec. 31. If someone is wishing to make a larger donation and in need of a receipt for tax purposes, Gelzinnis can be contacted by phone at (618) 550-9291.
“If in some small way, my 24-hour fast and time spent ‘homeless’ helped increase the awareness of issues that are prevalent here in our community or encouraged members of our community to get more involved, then it was completely worth it,” Gelzinnis said. “It most certainly has caused me to better appreciate what I have and inspired me to work even harder for those I am privileged to serve. I will leave you with this, the lyrics of an old Snoopy and Red Baron Song on Christmas Day performed by The Royal Guardsmen:
“Christmas Bells…Those Christmas Bells
Ringing Through The Land
Bringing Peace To All The World
And Good Will To Man”
May each of you be blessed this Christmas Season, and may the New Year bring you, your families, and our community hope and possibilities.”