TORONTO -The city unit of the Salvation Army's annual kettle drive has been declared a success by organizers, as the unit raised more funds than last year's drive.
The drive will enable the unit to help many families this year, according to Don Redmond, kettle drive coordinator.
"It's not a final figure," said Redmond. "Right now we're at $12,032.
"That's the amount right now," he continued. "One of those who donate annually saves up all their loose change during the year and donates it to us at the end of the year. We know there's going to be one more deposit made. It's over last year's number."
Bell ringers/volunteers were stationed at Riesbeck's grocery store and at both Kwik King grocery stores in the Gem City from the later part of November through Christmas week. Several churches and organizations donated their time, including volunteers from the North River Avenue Christian Church; Toronto Nazarene Church; Riverview United Methodist Church; Toronto Masons and Eastern Star; Toronto First Methodist Church; Toronto First Baptist Church; Toronto First Presbyterian Church; and St. Joseph and St. Francis Catholic churches. Members of the Toronto High School Honor Society also participated, said Redmond.
Unit officials have said November was one of the busiest months ever, and Redmond said he was concerned about this year's kettle drive because of the increasing need and not as many volunteers ringing bells this season.
"Normally I have 12 organizations that take a day (to ring bells)," he said. "This year I only had 10. I was filling in the other days with (solo) volunteers."
Redmond said he left the city on a brief trip and was only expecting to raise about $9,000 this year. He added a surprise was waiting for him when he returned.
"Amazing," said Redmond, adding the drive exceeded his expectations. "We are over what we did last year, which was $11,558. I say the same thing about the people of Toronto every year. To me, it's a miracle. It really is."
Redmond also thanked Jefferson County Cable Co., which he said raised a substantial amount this year. He also expressed his appreciation for all bell ringers and those who donated.
"I don't know what to say," said Redmond. "I'm at a loss for words. People in Toronto are just awesome, awesome people."
To reach the city unit of the salvation Army, call (740) 537-4737.