the_salvation_army.jpgBy nickels, dimes, and dollars, Americans donated a record $139 million to the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign during the holidays, despite a continued economic slump.

The tally represents a seven percent increase over the record set in 2008 of $130 million, and comes at a time when demand for social services has skyrocketed.

“America is an incredibly generous nation and philanthropy is alive and well, despite the current economic conditions impacting so many,” said Commissioner Israel L. Gaither, national commander of the Salvation Army, Religion News Service reports. “We are grateful for every donor, volunteer and corporate partner for supporting the Salvation Army’s mission during a time when some have so little to give.”

Red Kettles hung in front of retail stores and shopping malls in an estimated 25,000 locations across America. Bell ringers collected donations to support a broad array of programs and services for people in need, including providing food, shelter, rent, substance abuse treatment and Christmas assistance for more than 28 million people each year.

The Walmart Foundation also made a direct donation of $1.25 million to the Red Kettle Campaign and Target continued its support for The Salvation Army by donating more than $1.25 million in the form of cash and in-kind donations during the Christmas season.

For the fifth year, The Salvation Army empowered donors to raise money with family, friends and colleagues through an Online Red Kettle ( system. More than $1.9 million was donated through this method, a 100 percent increase over 2008. This amount is in addition to the money raised in physical kettles at retailers. Other online donations in November and December, not through the Online Red Kettle system, totaled $9.6 million, a 5.6 percent increase over the $9.2 million raised in 2008.

From its humble beginnings as a fundraiser started by a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco in 1891, the Red Kettle Campaign has grown into one of the most recognizable and important charitable outreach efforts in the United States.

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