By Darrell Todd Maurina
Salvation Army Christmas kettle collections in Clovis are down from last year and haven’t yet reached the halfway mark toward the $30,000 goal, but Capt. Hector Diaz said he still hopes to catch up before the Dec. 24 deadline.
“The kettle fund is used to try to buy food, and it allows us to continue with the programs for the following year,” Diaz said.
The currently has received only $13,000 so far, and that drop in donations mirrors a trend in recent years.
“It’s very low; it’s not a lot of money we receive,” Diaz said. “We received about $25,000 in 2001 and the following year we raised about $22,000 or $23,000.”
While it’s one of the most visible Salvation Army programs because stores allow bell ringers to stand outside their facilities, the kettle collection isn’t the only program the organization runs during the Christmas shopping season. The Empty Stocking Fund, which so far has raised about $2,700, exists to help provide presents for families that might otherwise have an empty stocking on Christmas Day.
“The Empty Stocking Fund is the checks that we get from offices like yours at the Clovis News Journal,” Diaz said. “Right now we are making 450 boxes of food and mostly we are preparing all the toys for the children.”
Diaz said the number of children who will be helped depends mostly on the number of donations.
“We still don’t know how many children we are going to be able to help with toys, but we are expecting to get more than 1,000 toys,” Diaz said.
Some of the burden of helping families with Christmas presents has been lifted off Diaz’ shoulders, however.
“I am happy because the Air Force is helping me with toys and they have been so kind this year by helping me with adopting families,” Diaz said. “The Air Force has been so involved this year because they are taking 20 or 25 families — they will take care of the families and this will be a big help for me. They are going to provide the toys, food and everything for the families.”
In addition to the Air Force workers, Diaz said he appreciates the efforts by Clovis residents to help his organization.
“I appreciate everything the community is doing in order to help us, and especially the stores that allow me to be outside collecting money,” Diaz said.