Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
One happy bell ringer

2016 Christmas Review newsletter

Added on Thursday, January 26, 2017

Welcome to our Christmas Review online newsletter, which provides exciting news and highlights from The Salvation Army’s 2016 Christmas Campaign in the Twin Cities, Greater Minnesota, and North Dakota.

Scroll down to discover fundraising totals, stats, and inspirational stories about our donors, volunteers, and the people we served throughout the holidays.

Thank you for supporting The Salvation Army during the 2016 Christmas season. Your generosity will help sustain our life-changing programs throughout the coming year.

Fundraising goals fall short

The Salvation Army Northern Division’s 2016 Christmas Campaign included good news and not-so-good news.

Kid gives at kettleFirst, the good news: Between kettles, online gifts, mailed donations, and other giving avenues, our supporters gave an astounding $20.4 million worth of Christmas donations in Minnesota and North Dakota from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.

The not-so-good news: We missed our overall Christmas Campaign goal of $20.7 million, falling $300,000 behind.

Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson“The frigid weather hampered our efforts to recruit volunteers and collect money in our kettles,” said Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson (pictured), leader of The Salvation Army Northern Division. “But we are still celebrating the fact that we were able to raise so much money in three months. We applaud our gracious donors, bell ringers, volunteers, and partners for supporting our efforts to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.”

The two stories below provide further insight about how our 2016 Christmas Campaign fared in the Twin Cities, Greater Minnesota, and North Dakota.

Twin Cities

The Salvation Army fell $100,000 short of our $11.6 million Christmas goal in the Twin Cities, raising $11.5 million.

The main issue was kettles. The Salvation Army struggled to find enough volunteers to staff kettles, and people dropped less money into them. Kettles brought in $2.6 million in the Twin Cities in 2016, down $230,000 from the year before.

Ringing outside Cub FoodsDespite the downturn in donations, success stories abounded. For example:

  • Kettles at Twin Cities metro area Cub grocery stores alone raised close to $1 million.
  • Donors gave big during our $1.5 million triple-match Dec. 16-17, capitalizing on every last dollar of the giving opportunity.
  • Volunteer bell ringers signed up in droves following our Dec. 11 announcement that kettle donations were critically short, along with nonstop radio advertising from KOOL 108 and its Bell Ringer of the Day promotion. These efforts helped us make up thousands in kettle income that would have been lost.

Two women ring at Mall of America“Considering we were $2.5 million behind with just days remaining in our Twin Cities Christmas Campaign, the efforts of our donors and volunteers to get us so close to the finish line was truly phenomenal,” Richardson said. “We look forward to carrying that momentum into 2017.”

North Dakota, Greater Minnesota

Salvation Army locations across North Dakota and Greater Minnesota raised a total of $8.9 million, missing their combined goal of $9.1 million. (See fundraising results of individual cities.)

Woman rings bellAlthough the goal missed its mark by $200,000, the spirit of giving displayed by our supporters was spot-on. That includes bell ringer Tom McGraw of Buffalo Lake, Minn., whose thoughts on giving and volunteering were inspiring.

“People put their last dollar in the kettle and say that they have to help the Army as the Army helped them when they needed it,” McGraw said. “Yes, the payback I get is worth far more than the time I invest.”

Another bright spot: Just over half of The Salvation Army’s 19 locations in North Dakota and Greater Minnesota still managed to reach or exceed their individual Christmas fundraising goals.

Students ring bellsExamples: The Salvation Army in Brainerd, Minn., exceeded its fundraising goal of $250,000. So did our location in Williston, N.D., where – with just two weeks to go in the Christmas season – donations had fallen behind 25 percent when compared to 2015. Thanks to a stirring last-minute community effort, the Williston Salvation Army topped its goal of $208,000.

“We’re glad to have the opportunity to serve the community by being that conduit of love and grace from the community’s generosity helping those in need,” said Captain Cappy Moore, Williston Salvation Army administrator, during an interview with KX News.

Christmas Campaign donations account for about one-third of The Salvation Army’s total annual budget in the Twin Cities, Greater Minnesota, and North Dakota.

“Given that we did not reach our fundraising goals during Christmas 2016, we have some catching up to do in the year ahead,” Richardson said. “We look forward to meeting this challenge with the help of our donors, partners, and volunteers. Through their support, we can continue providing food, clothing, housing, and other critical services for all who come to us in need.”

Kettle Central

red kettle illustrationThe Salvation Army’s 125th kettle season is in the books. From mid-November to Christmas Eve, thousands of volunteer bell ringers braved the cold and snow at hundreds of red kettle locations across Minnesota and North Dakota.

If you volunteered at a kettle, or gave to one, thank you. Your efforts raised $2.6 million worth of kettle donations in the Twin Cities, $2.7 million in Greater Minnesota, and $1.7 million in North Dakota.

Kettle donations are vital to the day-to-day operations of The Salvation Army’s 26 Worship and Service Centers in Minnesota and North Dakota, providing food, youth services, counseling, and other life-changing services.

Here are some of our favorite kettle and other fundraising stories from the 2016 Christmas season:

Ringers set world recordKettle Kickoff breaks Guinness World Record: Exactly 664 handbell musicians from 24 states gathered Nov. 19 at Mall of America to kickoff the 2016 kettle season. The event, dubbed “The Big Ring,” broke the world record for handbell ringing.

Putting the ‘fun’ in fundraising: From holiday lights to rare gold coins, Salvation Army supporters across Minnesota and North Dakota raised money or gave in different and remarkable ways.

Michael Winterringer rings the bellNo joke: 200-hour bell ringer’s last name is Winterringer: A 45-year-old man (pictured) rang for more than 200 hours outside the Walmart in Grand Rapids, Minn. His incredibly fitting last name: Winterringer.

‘Saint Grand’ gives like never before: Since 2011, an anonymous donor has been slipping fat bundles of $100 bills into Twin Cities red kettles. During the 2016 Christmas season, he or she gave even larger gifts.

Spreading Christmas Cheer

Your support of The Salvation Army helped make Christmas merry for tens of thousands of families in cities across Minnesota and North Dakota. Through your donations of time and money, we spread the love of Jesus Christ by providing toys, hot meals, and groceries for a Christmas feast.

Here’s a closer look:


In the Twin Cities, nearly 15,000 children received Christmas presents through our five local Toy Shops, where parents “shop” for gifts with the help of a volunteer (read story).

family opens gifts“Without this, I don’t know if (my) kids would have had a Christmas,” said Deneldre (pictured), a hardworking mother of three who lives in the Twin Cities suburbs. “I really appreciate everything.”

Dozens of smaller Toy Shops were held at Salvation Army locations throughout Minnesota and North Dakota. That includes Brainerd, Minn., where The Salvation Army distributed toys to more than 400 families through a partnership with the Marine Corps League (read story).

Toy Shop guest leaves with presents In southern Minnesota, our Toy Shops in Austin and Albert Lea benefitted from local fitness trainer and former MMA fighter Thomas Herrera, who raised and donated more than $10,000 worth of toys and shoes (see Facebook post).

Hundreds more kids received presents through our Toy Lift program, which allows parents who are incarcerated to send gifts to their children (read story).

beaded braceletsIn Jamestown, N.D., 10 prisoners at the James River Correctional Center showed their gratitude to The Salvation Army by making and donating wallets, beaded jewelry (pictured), stocking caps, and other crafts for us to distribute to local families in need of Christmas gifts (read story).

“This is a great reward,” said one of the prisoners, 43, whose crafts included hats and purses he crocheted himself. “It makes me feel normal knowing that even though I’m sitting in here, I’m doing a good deed for someone in need.”

Oink, oink

Inside the thousands of Christmas food boxes we distributed to Minnesota and North Dakota families in need were hams. Lots and lots of hams.

Hy Vee donates HamIn the Twin Cities, The Salvation Army distributed nearly 60,000 pounds of Hormel® Cure 81® hams donated by Hy-Vee.

“We are honored to partner with The Salvation Army to combat hunger this holiday season,” said Mike Long, district vice president of Hy-Vee’s northeast district.

We also distributed hams in the North Dakota cities of Fargo and Grand Forks, where grocery stores Hornbacher’s and Cloverdale Foods together donated nearly 1,500 hams (read story).

HamsIn Austin, another 575 families received hams inside food boxes that also contained rolls, corn, pumpkin pie, and other foods to make a Christmas meal. These hams were also donated by Hy-Vee (read story).

In addition to all those hams and food boxes, The Salvation Army also fed families by serving them fresh, hot Christmas dinners.

Anthony Raj“There’s nothing like someone saying thank you for giving them food,” said volunteer Anthony Raj Sr. (pictured), who served hot meals at our Harbor Light Shelter in Minneapolis during the Christmas season, in memory of his son (read story).

The Salvation Army appreciates the donors, partners and volunteers who supported our Toy Shops and Christmas food programs throughout Minnesota and North Dakota during the Christmas season.

“We are very grateful to the people who gave so generously,” said Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson, leader of The Salvation Army Northern Division. “Their help allowed families who were struggling financially to still provide a joyful Christmas for their children.”

Saddle up, partners

A long list of businesses and organizations provided inspiring support of The Salvation Army Northern Division throughout the 2016 Christmas season.

These partners helped by donating, fundraising, and serving people in need – all in a multitude of fun and creative ways.

“We appreciate our valued partners for leveraging their resources to spread Christmas cheer through the work of The Salvation Army,” said Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson, leader of The Salvation Army Northern Division.

Here are some of the ways our partners helped:

– kid gets giftThe Minnesota Vikings were in lockstep with The Salvation Army from Thanksgiving straight until Christmas. In addition to donating almost 2,000 Thanksgiving food boxes (read story), a group of players gave gifts and signed autographs at our Harbor Light Shelter in Minneapolis (read story), while the team’s offensive line and the Zimmer Foundation purchased Christmas gifts for dozens of kids and families (pictured).

– The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation contributed $250,000 toward our two-day, $1.5 million matching opportunity Dec. 16-17.  A long-time supporter of The Salvation Army, Schulze founded Best Buy and grew up in St. Paul.

– Super One Foods grocery stores in the Minnesota cities of Duluth, Hibbing and Virginia helped raise thousands for The Salvation Army by matching kettle donations at their stores Dec. 17–24.

Cargill employees donate– Employees from Cargill gave a $4,500 Christmas donation to our Harbor Light Shelter (pictured).

– During its grand opening, Smaaash amusement park at Mall of America donated $5,000 to The Salvation Army.

– KOOL 108 FM hosted on online red kettle that included a $5,000 match from Joe’s Sporting Goods in St. Paul.

– This year’s Bentleyville Tour of Lights display in Duluth, Minn., featured an astounding 4.5 million lights – about a million more than last year. The annual event draws more than 250,000 people, all of whom are encouraged to bring new toys and nonperishable foods for the Duluth Salvation Army to distribute.

AT&T stores in Minnesota and North Dakota held toy collections benefitting Salvation Army locations in both states (read story).

Cub round-up– Cub customers gave $7,000 by rounding-up their purchases Nov. 19 during our kettle kickoff.

– The Trans-Siberian Orchestra donated $1 of every ticket sold for their Dec. 10 concerts at Xcel Energy Center. Total raised: $24,000.

– For the third Christmas in a row, Great Northern Environmental gave a $25 gift card to all 96 residents of our Hope Harbor housing facility (read story).

Toys from Xcel Energy– Xcel Energy dropped off hundreds of toys (pictured) that were donated by its employees during a month-long toy drive.

– Off-duty firefighters in Fargo, N.D., spent Dec. 10 ringing bells all over the city as part of an annual competition pitting them against local police and real estate professionals to see who can raise the most money (watch video).

– Hy-Vee donated 25 cents to The Salvation Army for every dozen cookies sold at its Twin Cities metro area stores.

– Two Twin Cities Chick-fil-A restaurants raised about $3,000 by setting out counter kettles and donating a portion of their cookie sales.

T-Wolves center Cole Aldrich– Minnesota Timberwolves center Cole Aldrich (pictured) threw a private Christmas party for three families served by the Twin Cities Salvation Army (read story).

– Real estate professionals across Minnesota and North Dakota helped raise tens of thousands of dollars by bell ringing Dec. 2 during Ring Day 2016.

– The Minnesota Wild helped raise almost $10,000 by hosting red kettles before their home games. Wild fans also donated by rounding-up their concessions purchases.

Kat Perkins– Dozens of local media personalities, royalty, musicians, and others raised almost $5,000 on Dec. 16 during Celebrity Bell Ringing Day at Mall of America (view photos). Singer Kat Perkins (pictured) of The Voice fame brought down the Mall with her impromptu performance of Frank Sinatra’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

– Advertising company Morsekode donated $10 on Dec. 9 every time those on social media wore red and posted a selfie with the hashtag #RedOut. Total raised: $2,380.

– Members of the Masonic Lodge in Austin, Minn., helped raise more than $14,000 for the Austin Salvation Army by ringing bells Fridays and Saturdays at the local Hy-Vee, and through a $10,000 match from Minnesota Masonic Charities (read story).

William Booth Society Christmas party– Salvation Army National Advisory Board member David Frauenshuh sponsored a Christmas party at the James J. Hill mansion in St. Paul for members of the local William Booth Society.

– Minneapolis firefighters raised more than $2,000 by bell ringing in downtown Minneapolis during another year of Buck the Boot, an event that has become a decades-long tradition.

iHeartRadio on-air personalities filmed funny videos to recruit bell ringers and encourage kettle donations:

Playing catch-up

Meal servingThe Salvation Army Northern Division is already hard at work using Christmas donations to serve people and families in crisis.

One problem: After missing our Christmas fundraising goal, we have entered 2017 behind by $300,000. The last time we missed our Christmas goal was two years ago, and program cuts followed.

Through your generosity, we can move closer to ensuring that everybody who needs food, clothing, shelter, and other services receives assistance during the coming year.

Please help us by making a one-time or monthly gift online. You can also give by mailing a check, calling 800-SAL-ARMY, donating stock, and more (see all giving options).

Thank you for supporting The Salvation Army now and throughout 2017. Your kindness allows us to spread the love of Jesus Christ by meeting the needs of thousands in His name.