[Hpn] Slow Season for Salvation Army Bell Ringers

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Tue, 18 Dec 2007 05:18:28 -0500


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Slow Season for Salvation Army Bell Ringers
By MATHEW MONKS
Special to the Sun


December 18, 2007

http://www.nysun.com/article/68258

Salvation Army bell ringer Gwendolyn Rivers says her red kettle seems =
lighter this year.

Last year "there were times it was so full you had to stuff the money =
in," Ms. Rivers said, shivering in the cold near Rockefeller Center on =
Saturday night.

Economic pressures and bad weather are depressing the Salvation Army of =
Greater New York's annual kettle drive, with donations down 21% so far =
this year, the charity's director of programs, Major John Hodgson, said. =
The drive runs between November 12 and December 24.

The Salvation Army's 39 local chapters had collected $925,000 as of =
December 13, down from $1.165 million during the same period last year.

"The softness of contributions may be due to the uncertainty of the =
economy," Major Hodgson said. "When there is a recession, all people are =
hurting so people give. But when there is uncertainty, then people =
hesitate until the last minute."

The charity is aiming to hit its $2.5 million fund-raising target during =
the week and a half before Christmas, when most donations are typically =
collected. If it falls short, there will be less to spend on children's =
toys, food, and clothing this year. Homeless outreach, rent subsidies, =
and other programs could suffer, too.

We have to cut back on services if the money's not there," Mr. Hodgson =
said.

The Salvation Army of New York isn't the only region struggling this =
holiday season. Collections are also down in Maine, New Hampshire, and =
Vermont, according to the Associated Press.

Retail data provider MasterCard Advisors said yesterday that retail =
store sales have slowed steadily since November, as consumers deal with =
higher fuel prices, a housing slump, and the credit crunch.

The Salvation Army is feeling the pinch at its most lucrative kettle =
locations in Manhattan. Red kettles in Rockefeller Center are pulling in =
an average $101 an hour this year, compared with an average of $120 an =
hour last year, Major Hodgson said.

Bell ringer Connie Smith, who manned a kettle outside of Rockefeller =
Center on Saturday night, said the crowds seem less giving this year. It =
also hurts that the plaza is a beacon for other people soliciting money.

"There is a lot of competition," Ms. Smith said. "You got the guy =
playing the drums and you had Santa on the corner earlier."

One block away, bell ringer Filipe Concha said passersby seem troubled =
this year. He blamed the weather, saying people are less likely to stop =
and give a dollar when they're rushing to get out of the cold.

"It's pretty difficult because it's cold, it's rainy, it's awful," Mr. =
Concha said. "It seems like people are a lot busier this year. They look =
sad - you know? People worry."

The best performing kettle locations tend to be in the areas with the =
most traffic. After Rockefeller Center, the city's best spots are Grand =
Central Terminal, which averages $99 an hour; Penn Station, $91 an hour; =
the World Trade Center Path station, $73 an hour, and Macy's at Herald =
Square, $67 an hour.

Because Manhattan is by far the most lucrative borough for fundraising, =
the Salvation Army allows each center from the other boroughs to man a =
couple of kettles in the city.

The majority of bell ringers are volunteers, although the Salvation Army =
sometimes hires people to man kettles when free labor is scarce. The =
center outside Times Square, for instance, pays some of its kettle =
workers $7 to $9 an hour.

A kettle's performance can also be tied to the person working it. People =
that play an instrument, sing, or have another gimmick to engage a crowd =
tend to do better than those who just stand there ringing a bell. Pairs =
and groups also tend to draw more donations than individuals.

Times Square is a particularly tough place to raise money, despite being =
a high-traffic area, Major Hodgson said. The kettle near the Hard Rock =
Cafe, for instance, collects just $14 an hour.

"There is just so much going on in Times Square - you're one of the =
minor attractions," he said. "It's so crowded and so noisy and so glitzy =
that people walk right by the kettle guy."

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<DIV>
<H1 style=3D"MARGIN-TOP: 10px">Slow Season for Salvation Army Bell =
Ringers</H1>
<P style=3D"MARGIN-TOP: 12px">By MATHEW MONKS<BR><I>Special to the =
Sun</I></P>
<P style=3D"MARGIN-TOP: 12px"><EM></EM><BR>December 18, 2007</P>
<P style=3D"MARGIN-TOP: 12px"><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://www.nysun.com/article/68258">http://www.nysun.com/article/=
68258</A></FONT></P><SPAN=20
class=3Darticle_small id=3Darticle>
<P>Salvation Army bell ringer Gwendolyn Rivers says her red kettle seems =
lighter=20
this year.</P>
<P>Last year "there were times it was so full you had to stuff the money =
in,"=20
Ms. Rivers said, shivering in the cold near Rockefeller Center on =
Saturday=20
night.</P>
<P>Economic pressures and bad weather are depressing the Salvation Army =
of=20
Greater New York's annual kettle drive, with donations down 21% so far =
this=20
year, the charity's director of programs, Major John Hodgson, said. The =
drive=20
runs between November 12 and December 24.</P>
<P>The Salvation Army's 39 local chapters had collected $925,000 as of =
December=20
13, down from $1.165 million during the same period last year.</P>
<P>"The softness of contributions may be due to the uncertainty of the =
economy,"=20
Major Hodgson said. "When there is a recession, all people are hurting =
so people=20
give. But when there is uncertainty, then people hesitate until the last =

minute."</P>
<P>The charity is aiming to hit its $2.5 million fund-raising target =
during the=20
week and a half before Christmas, when most donations are typically =
collected.=20
If it falls short, there will be less to spend on children's toys, food, =
and=20
clothing this year. Homeless outreach, rent subsidies, and other =
programs could=20
suffer, too.</P>
<P>We have to cut back on services if the money's not there," Mr. =
Hodgson=20
said.</P>
<P>The Salvation Army of New York isn't the only region struggling this =
holiday=20
season. Collections are also down in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont,=20
according to the Associated Press.</P>
<P>Retail data provider MasterCard Advisors said yesterday that retail =
store=20
sales have slowed steadily since November, as consumers deal with higher =
fuel=20
prices, a housing slump, and the credit crunch.</P>
<P>The Salvation Army is feeling the pinch at its most lucrative kettle=20
locations in Manhattan. Red kettles in Rockefeller Center are pulling in =
an=20
average $101 an hour this year, compared with an average of $120 an hour =
last=20
year, Major Hodgson said.</P>
<P>Bell ringer Connie Smith, who manned a kettle outside of Rockefeller =
Center=20
on Saturday night, said the crowds seem less giving this year. It also =
hurts=20
that the plaza is a beacon for other people soliciting money.</P>
<P>"There is a lot of competition," Ms. Smith said. "You got the guy =
playing the=20
drums and you had Santa on the corner earlier."</P>
<P>One block away, bell ringer Filipe Concha said passersby seem =
troubled this=20
year. He blamed the weather, saying people are less likely to stop and =
give a=20
dollar when they're rushing to get out of the cold.</P>
<P>"It's pretty difficult because it's cold, it's rainy, it's awful," =
Mr. Concha=20
said. "It seems like people are a lot busier this year. They look sad =
=97 you=20
know? People worry."</P>
<P>The best performing kettle locations tend to be in the areas with the =
most=20
traffic. After Rockefeller Center, the city's best spots are Grand =
Central=20
Terminal, which averages $99 an hour; Penn Station, $91 an hour; the =
World Trade=20
Center Path station, $73 an hour, and Macy's at Herald Square, $67 an =
hour.</P>
<P>Because Manhattan is by far the most lucrative borough for =
fundraising, the=20
Salvation Army allows each center from the other boroughs to man a =
couple of=20
kettles in the city.</P>
<P>The majority of bell ringers are volunteers, although the Salvation =
Army=20
sometimes hires people to man kettles when free labor is scarce. The =
center=20
outside Times Square, for instance, pays some of its kettle workers $7 =
to $9 an=20
hour.</P>
<P>A kettle's performance can also be tied to the person working it. =
People that=20
play an instrument, sing, or have another gimmick to engage a crowd tend =
to do=20
better than those who just stand there ringing a bell. Pairs and groups =
also=20
tend to draw more donations than individuals.</P>
<P>Times Square is a particularly tough place to raise money, despite =
being a=20
high-traffic area, Major Hodgson said. The kettle near the Hard Rock =
Cafe, for=20
instance, collects just $14 an hour.</P>
<P>"There is just so much going on in Times Square =97 you're one of the =
minor=20
attractions," he said. "It's so crowded and so noisy and so glitzy that =
people=20
walk right by the kettle guy."</P></SPAN></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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