A dozen or so tables at the Salvation Army were full at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday for the nonprofit’s daily lunch services.

Maj. Tom McDowell said it was a slow day for the lunch program despite the packed room.

Without red kettle donations, the Salvation Army could not provide its basic food and housing services, McDowell said.

The 2018 Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign provided 28,971 hot meals to the community this year.

This year’s campaign kicked off Friday in Janesville at Maurer’s Market on East Milwaukee Street.

The 2019 Christmas campaign goal is $400,000, down from last year’s $425,000 goal.

The Christmas campaign combines red kettle donations and mail-in donations.


David Granja places money into a red kettle as Gary Carr rings the bell at Maurer’s Market during the Salvation Army’s red kettle kickoff in Janesville on Friday. The group’s 2019 Christmas campaign goal is $400,000.

In Beloit, the goal is to raise $120,000, which is an increase from last year’s goal, in part to help balance the Beloit location’s budget, McDowell said.

The Salvation Army corps in Janesville and Beloit combined administrative services in the last year to become the Salvation Army Rock County. Both locations still offer different services tailored to the communities.

Culver’s in Beloit offered to match all red kettle donations made in Beloit on Friday. It is the first time—as far as anyone working at the nonprofit remembers—an organization offered to do a match in Rock County, McDowell said.

It would be “tremendous” if someone in Janesville offered to do a match like Culver’s did in Beloit, McDowell said.

The nonprofit fell $54,400 short of its Christmas campaign last year with donations totaling $370,500.

McDowell can count on one hand the number of times he has seen a Christmas campaign exceed its goal since he started in 1982, he said.

Budgeting becomes more difficult the less money is raised, McDowell said. He hopes this year’s addition of Kettle Pay, which allows shoppers to donate via Google or Apple Pay, will increase donations.

In 2018, kettle donations provided the following in Rock County:

  • 9,230 food pantry orders.
  • 1,794 emergency lodging nights.
  • 2,568 nights in traditional housing.

More than 4,000 bellringer shifts still need to be filled from now until Christmas Eve, McDowell said.