The Salvation Army is in the final days of their annual bell ringing campaign and thanks to a couple of benefactors, donations to the kettles will be matched up to $25,000 this weekend.

“We’re beyond thrilled that two partners here in the Quad Cities, Von Maur and SSAB, have agreed to provide a pool of funds of $25,000 to match all the money that comes into our red kettles in the Quad Cities this Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” said Major Robert Doliber, Quad Cities coordinator. “We’ve had a partnership with Von Maur back before the pandemic. They really appreciate our mission and supported it, but because of the cutbacks in the pandemic they had to suspend their giving to us.” Major Doliber was able to meet with Jim Von Maur, the president of Von Maur a few weeks ago. “I said we had already got a gift from SSAB that they said could go towards a kettle match on the last few days of kettles and we were hoping to get a $25,000 match. He said he would write out a check for the difference.”

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Back then, nobody could have predicted the bitter temperatures expected for the end of the kettle campaign. “I’m a little concerned that people are going to be staying indoors, staying away from the red kettles or that our bell ringers will just be a little shy of the weather to even come out. I’ve always said an unmanned kettle is an empty kettle, so we’ve talked to most of our bellringing location partners the Hy-Vees and the Walmarts and the Sam’s and asked ‘would you let our bell ringers come inside in the entryway on these three days when wind chill’s below 0, the snow’s coming down’ and all of them have said ‘certainly, we’ll let you do that’ so hopefully that’s an encouragement to our bell ringers to show up and to our donors when they get out in the cold to see that the need is great and put a little extra in the pot.”

Today’s subzero temperatures didn’t keep Major Doliber or donors from going out and about. “We’ve got great donors here in the Quad Cities. I rang yesterday a little bit at Hy-Vee, and I rang this morning at Walmart. I was glad I was in the entryway because it was so cold, but people were putting fives and 10s and 20s in there. I was happy to point out the match this morning, I said ‘you know the $5 that you give is now $10, thank you very much.’”

The donation from SSAB, a specialized steel manufacturer with facilities in Muscatine, left Major Doliber flabbergasted. “I had met the HR Director in my office a few months back and she really appreciated the ministry and work of the Salvation Army and our mission. We were really surprised about a month ago to get a check for $5000 from them, we hadn’t received one before. I reached out and I said, ‘you know, we’re looking for a matching opportunity, a challenge grant and would you be willing to consider your generous gift as part of the seed money for a challenge grant’ and she said ‘certainly, done, by all means.’”

A placard on kettles featuring Von Maur and SAB’s logos explains that all donations given during the three day drive are doubled up to $25,000. If getting out isn’t an option, you can still help out. “If your listeners can’t get out because of the weather and they’re sitting in their living room in their pajamas and enjoying the nice indoor weather, they can give online during these days, and we can count that towards the match as well.”  Clicking here supports Salvation Army programs on the Illinois side, while clicking here supports the work on the Iowa side. “They can donate with their credit card information, it’s safe it’s secure, you do it from the comfort of your own home and then the money goes back to the community where you donate to.”

Time is running out for the kettle campaign. “Our bell ringing stops Christmas Eve, we don’t extend it the next week if we don’t make our goal. Last year we made 14% of our kettle income on these last three days. We have 43 days of bell ringing since November 4th but 14% of it came in these last three days. We had some good weather last year right before Christmas so I’m a little nervous about it, but I know that the public in the Quad Cities is very generous. I hope that they’ll sense the need not only for what we do at Christmas time but year round. We provide not only food year round but seasonal activities, shelter and housing services.”

Donations may also be mailed to the Salvation Army at 100 Kirkwood Blvd, Davenport IA 52803.