There was a lot of green in the red Salvation Army kettles this year.
The local group says it set a new fundraising record with its annual donation drive — $49,000.
“We were surprised. Everybody was just totally blown away,” Salvation Army Capt. Donald Warriner said Thursday. “Everybody says this is a very generous community, but that was something we thought would never happen.”
This year’s figure far exceeds past amounts by some $20,000. Last year, the bell-ringers collected $28,000; two years ago, $24,000.
“My board said $30,0000, I said I think we can do $40,000. Little did I know we almost did $50,000,” Warriner said while extending his gratitude to the people of Juneau.
The downtown First National Bank Alaska counted the change for the charity, and provided them the grand total Thursday.
The Christian nonprofit, which runs a thrift store on Willoughby Avenue and is involved with charity work, hosts the fundraiser each year to cover operating expenses for the next year. Eighty percent of cash donations to Juneau’s Salvation Army are raised in November and December, and the other 20 percent is raised throughout the rest of the year, Warriner said.
Salvation Army Advisory Board member Tracy Kubley says she hasn’t seen anything like this in her six years on the board.
“Donations are coming in faster than they’re going out,” she exclaimed. “We’re very, very grateful.”
Kubley added the money raised in Juneau stays in Juneau, and that people who donate know the money benefits their own community.
There were 10 more kettles placed about town this year than in years past, and the bell-ringers also manned the stations a little bit longer. Instead of leaving at 5 p.m., they stayed until 7 p.m.
There were also paid bell-ringers when volunteers weren’t available.
“During the week most people work, so it’s hard to volunteer,” Warriner said.
Donning Santa hats, the volunteers and employees worked from Black Friday until Christmas Eve.
It was worth every penny, the group says.
“Our motto is ‘Doing the most good,’” Warriner said. “That’s what we’re planning on doing with the money we raised.”
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.