Numbers tell the story.
In 2011, The Salvation Army in Fort Dodge served 24,600 people.
In 2012 - so far - it has served 39,600.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Beulah Torgerson looks over tags on The Salvation Army Angel Tree at the Crossroads Mall during the Red Kettle Campaign Kickoff Friday evening.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Salvation Army Capt. Ron Cook stops to chat with volunteer Nancy Blaha, left, during the Red Kettle Campaign Kickoff Friday evening at the Crossroads Mall. Volunteers will have the kettles out today at the Fort Dodge Fareway with other locations to follow on Monday.
According to Capt. Ron Cook, of The Salvation Army, the numbers are a critical reason for helping the organization meet its Red Kettle Campaign goal of $200,000.
"We definitely need to make it this year," he said.
Capt. Carol Cook said that much of the need is due to the economy.
"There's a lot of job loss," she said.
In addition, many people are only working part-time and have had no pay increases while prices rise.
"People need more than minimum," Cook said.
The first kettle will be put out at Fareway today; kettles at other locations will be set out on Monday.
Cook said The Salvation Army still needs volunteers to ring the bells at those sites.
"The more volunteers we can get," she said, "the more we can cover our spots."
She encouraged service clubs and organizations, as well as companies, to get involved with bell ringing. Cook will arrange a day and time for anyone interested.
While the Red Kettles are intended for the collection of cash, The Salvation Army is also seeking other things during the holiday season.
"We're in need of food, toys and clothing," Cook said.
Those items can be donated on Dec. 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. when The Salvation Army hosts a Stuff a Truck event in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
Salvation Army board member Kim Alstott has also seen the increased need for its services.
He said that in 2011 a typical lunch service would feed about 85 people. That's up this year. Now a typical lunch sees about 180 people, he said.
"The need has really grown a lot," Alstott said, "It's tripled in the last year."
Another program that offers the public an opportunity to give is the annual Angel Tree campaign, also a Salvation Army effort. It's located near the Sears store inside the Crossroads Mall.
To participate, the donor simply takes a card, then purchases the items on the card; they are specific for one child.
Cook said the cards can also be picked up at Northwest Bank.
The various programs do have deadlines. Cook said donated items will be distributed on Dec. 20 and 21 and that gift donations should be turned in by Dec. 19.
The Red Kettles will stay up until Christmas Eve. There is no ringing on Thanksgiving Day and Sundays.
While The Salvation Army did experiment with using machines that could swipe credit and debit cards at kettle locations in the recent past, Cook said that it was not successful and it won't be done locally.
Donors who wish to use cards can donate online at www.salvationarmyusa.org or by calling (800) 725-2769. The Salvation Army is located at 126 N. Seventh St. It can be reached at 576-1281.
The Salvation Army will also be hosting a Thanksgiving Day meal at that location from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Beulah Torgerson, of Fort Dodge, has spent many hours volunteering for The Salvation Army. She has a simple request for the public as they walk past the Red Kettles this year.
"I think they should give a big donation," she said.