After a sluggish start, the Salvation Army's red-kettle campaign surpassed its fundraising goal, raising $571,675 during the holiday season in Central Kentucky, Salvation Army officials said Friday.
The goal was to raise $550,000. The organization has a $6.5 million annual budget in the Lexington area.
Traditional kettles in front of stores raised $369,534, down about $3,000 from last year. Online contributions raised $202,141. That's the second-largest online kettle campaign in the country, according to Salvation Army officials.
The online campaign was helped by a $100,000 match from an anonymous donor.
Salvation Army officials were concerned in mid-December when initial fundraising totals showed a drop in giving. On Dec. 12, the kettle campaign was down nearly $20,000 from the same time the previous year and had raised only $169,598. Rainy weather and a later-than-usual Thanksgiving hampered giving.
"The kettle campaign was certainly struggling initially, but during the last week contributions dramatically increased," said Maj. Steven Ashcraft, the Salvation Army's Central Kentucky area coordinator. "On behalf of thousands of people who will receive shelter, food, education and other life-changing services as a result of kettle contributions, I want to express my sincere thanks to everyone who rang the bell, hosted an online kettle and made a donation."
The Salvation Army has a food pantry and free clothing centers, and it helps with prescription drug costs and pays emergency utility bills. Also, the Salvation Army runs the city's women's shelter and provides emergency shelter for children. Last year, the Salvation Army provided shelter for 400 children and provided more than 64,000 meals for low-income children. Its preschool and after-school programs served more than 600 children, according to numbers provided by the Salvation Army.