The Salvation Army of Lincoln County will be ceasing operations at the closing of this fiscal year due to an inability to find anyone to take over and run their biggest events of the year.
“I would say that by the end of November, we will probably be closed,” John Emerson said.
Emerson, the Co-Chairman that has been in charge of such fundraisers in the past, is unable to continue running those fundraisers due to health related limitations, and after looking tirelessly for someone to take over, the organization has come up empty-handed. One reason they might not be able to find anyone is the fact that the planning for the fundraisers, such as the Red Kettle Fundraiser Salvation Armies nationwide are synonymous with, is essentially a full time job for a portion of the year.
“It’s very sad,” Emerson said. “We help a lot of people over the course of the year.”
Emerson said most of the help the local Salvation Army has offered is in the paying of utility bills, but they have also helped out with things like flood relief and various special projects for different groups of people.
“It’s all very sad. I wish it wasn’t this way, but we haven’t found a way to solve the problem,” Emerson said.
The main fundraiser, where the Salvation Army of Lincoln County gets roughly 90 percent of its funding, is the bell ringing Red Kettle Campaign around the Christmas holiday.
“We get a couple of grants throughout the year, but the vast majority comes from Red Kettles. And I just can’t do it again. We have been very unable to find someone willing to take it on. It’s a rather big job,” Emerson said.
He added that this is all extra frustrating because of how supportive the Lincoln County communities are of the Salvation Army.
“The other sort of sad thing is that the residents of Lincoln County are big supporters. We put our Red Kettles out, like I said, for about four weeks in December and we probably take in $50,000-$55,000 in donations. It’s change, it’s dollar bills. It’s not big every time somebody passes the kettle. They drop in whatever they happen to have. It’s really sad to me when you have a group of people that are willing to do that, that we can’t find somebody to run the project,” Emerson said. Emerson said that he is hopeful that some other organizations, such as NECAC, can help pick up the slack from the Salvation Army’s discontinuing. There is the possibility of someone stepping in and accepting the responsibility of managing the fundraisers but Emerson thinks, at this point, it might be too little too late.
“In order to be successful, we’d probably need someone to step up in the next week or two,” Emerson said. He added that planning usually begins in early October, which is long past.
“We’d be way behind the curve. Is it possible? Maybe. But it would have to be someone who is willing to step up pretty quick,” Emerson said.
As far as whether or not he thinks the Salvation Army has a future in Lincoln County or not, Emerson is hopeful that one day it will be around to provide Lincoln County residents with the security it offers.
“I hope this is maybe only a year or two lapse before somebody is willing to come in and do what is needed to get it back going again,” Emerson said.
Emerson’s profile of the ideal candidate to pick up where he left off is someone that has been recently retired, has a lot of spare time and is looking to give back to the community.
“You need someone who has time during the day, everyday, to devote to the project: a recent retiree or someone who doesn’t work at a more traditional job during the day,” Emerson said.