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Fri, Dec. 13

Salvation Army in Kingman has seen a 15% increase in calls for assistance

JAMES CHILTON/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Local Salvation Army bellringer Angela Tackett (left) stands with Captains Les and Susan Spousta in front of Walmart at 3396 Stockton Hill Road. Bellringers like Tackett will be accepting donations through Christmas Eve.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

JAMES CHILTON/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Local Salvation Army bellringer Angela Tackett (left) stands with Captains Les and Susan Spousta in front of Walmart at 3396 Stockton Hill Road. Bellringers like Tackett will be accepting donations through Christmas Eve.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

KINGMAN - From now through Christmas, you won't be able to walk into a local grocery store without hearing the steady tinkle of a bell in the hands of a Salvation Army bellringer.

The local Salvation Army has rolled out its annual kettle donation campaign, staging bellringers at nearly a dozen local stores, each armed with an iconic red kettle meant for cash donations from members of the public. And with local unemployment mired in the double digits, Salvation Army Captain Les Spousta said the need for assistance has only grown over the last several years.

"The need can't be expressed," Spousta said. "In October, we had I think it was 326 food boxes that we gave out, when we usually give out 150 to 180.

"Then we gave out 344 food boxes in November, but that does include special boxes we give out for Thanksgiving."

According to Spousta, the local Salvation Army has seen a 15-percent increase in the number of people that came to its office at 309 Beale St. looking for some kind of food or material assistance this year. In the 12-month period through Sept. 30, he said, the Salvation Army serviced more than 7,800 local clients with non-perishable food boxes, clothing, furniture and financial assistance with their bills, spending about $175,000 total, not including administrative costs.

And while Spousta said the organization has been able to do so much thanks to its partnership with other local churches, charities and governmental agencies, the need for donations is still profound, especially since charitable giving as a whole has dropped by about 20 percent.

What's worse, the ongoing effects of the 2007 recession mean that many people who previously didn't need help are now put in a position where they have little choice, particularly those people who were in the occupations that were hardest hit by the recession, such as the construction field.

"We're serving all sorts of people who've never needed help before," Spousta said. "Thirty-nine percent of the people coming in lately have been first-time customers."

Spousta said the goal for this year's kettle drive is to raise $65,000 through Dec. 24. It's a lofty goal, to be sure, but he's hopeful, since the kettle drive has managed to outdo itself each of the five years he's been in Kingman.

"We have been fantastically blessed in Kingman over the years," he said.

Spousta further noted that, of every dollar donated through the kettle program, 82 cents goes to directly benefit local citizens through the purchase of food and clothing, or through direct monetary assistance. The remainder goes to pay a skeleton crew of about five full-time employees who manage the day-to-day affairs of the local office.

For more information or to inquire about volunteering as a bellringer or arranging a donation pickup, call (928) 753-5592.

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