By Darrell Todd Maurina
Unless the Salvation Army receives a large amount of donations this morning, the organization won’t make its fundraising goals.
Things are better than they were two weeks ago, however, according to Capt. Hector Diaz of the Clovis unit. On Dec. 13, the kettle collection fund had received only $13,000 toward its $30,000 goal, but by Wednesday noon the kettles had reached $26,545 — several thousand dollars more than collected last year.
The Empty Stocking Fund, which is used separately to provide Christmas gifts to needy families, didn’t do as well. Diaz said the Salvation Army had raised only $4,661, a bit more than half of the organization’s $9,000 goal.
“The Empty Stocking Fund is important because it helps me to help the community,” Diaz said. “We already helped 450 families and I think it will be a little bit more. We already gave 900 toys.”
Despite the financial shortfall, the fund has received a significant number of non-cash donations such as toys, and Diaz said those donating gifts sometimes receive more benefit than those who receive the gifts.
“The people, when they come here to donate toys or food, I can see in their faces that they are so happy to help us so we can help the community,” Diaz said.
The kettle collection is doing better. Perhaps the most visible donation opportunity offered by the Salvation Army, the kettle collections were placed this year at Wal-Mart and IGA in Portales and at Wal-Mart, Sears, Dillards, Dollar Tree, and Lowe’s in Clovis.
Diaz said he was very grateful so many stores allow him to put kettle collections outside their entrances, and singled out North Plains Mall manager Cindy Banister who has provided extra assistance.
“Not every store wants to have somebody outside,” Diaz said. “She has been so helpful by taking care of the angel tree at the mall.”
Diaz said he enjoys working with the Salvation Army because it provides spiritual as well as financial help to those in need. His work as a commissioned officer is comparable to what other denominations would call an ordained minister.
“I became a Christian through the Salvation Army, and in 1988 the officers made an invitation: ‘Who wants to serve the Lord not Sundays but the whole time?’” Diaz said. “I made that my step and went to school and became an officer.”
“When I met the Salvation Army they didn’t tell me I need food, I need clothes, they provided counseling through the Word of God,” Diaz said. “I think physically providing help is important, but I believe with all my heart if you provide spiritual help it will help people to see things different.”