Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Three happy bell ringers

2017 Christmas Review newsletter

Added on Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Our Christmas Review online newsletter provides exciting news and highlights from The Salvation Army’s 2017 Christmas Campaign in the Twin Cities, Greater Minnesota and North Dakota.

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

Thank you for supporting The Salvation Army during the 2017 Christmas season. Your generosity will help sustain our life-changing programs throughout the coming year.

Fundraising goals hit the mark

The Salvation Army Northern Division reached its overall Christmas fundraising goals in Minnesota and North Dakota.

Between kettles, online donations and other giving, our supporters in both states gave a combined $21 million.

Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson“We are thrilled,” said Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson (pictured), leader of The Salvation Army Northern Division. “The generosity of our donors is inspiring. Their gifts will fuel our efforts to change lives in the name of Jesus Christ long into 2018.”

Christmas donations are critical to The Salvation Army, accounting for about a third of our yearly budget. Additional fundraising efforts will continue for the next nine months, until the next season of Christmas fundraising begins in October.

Twin Cities

Two happy bell ringersOur donors gave all that was needed – and then some – for the Twin Cities Salvation Army to reach its Christmas fundraising goal of $11.6 million.

Giving hit record levels Dec. 22-23, when all donations in the Twin Cities were triple-matched, up to $1.5 million. The matching dollars came from a group of individual and corporate donors, including $250,000 from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. Total donations from the public: $1.64 million.

“That is the largest two-day giving effort in Twin Cities Salvation Army history,” Richardson said. “Simply incredible.”

Photo of $200,000 checkAdditional successes abounded:

  • Kettle donations at Cub grocery stores in the Twin Cities reached an astounding $917,000.
  • Somebody dropped a $200,000 check (pictured) into a red kettle in the south metro area on Saturday, Dec. 16 (read story). The donation made national headlines.
  • Online donations in the Twin Cities increased by $60,000 over last Christmas.
  • A mystery donor affectionately known as Saint Grand (read story) gave 11 kettle donations of between $1,200–$1,400. Each gift included a bundle of crisp $100 bills wrapped in a rubber band. Saint Grand has been giving similar gifts every Christmas season since 2011.

“We are grateful to the Twin Cities community for stepping up its giving this Christmas season,” said Debra Wilken, Development Director for The Salvation Army Northern Division. “We thank them for trusting us to do the most good with their contributions in 2018.”

North Dakota, Greater Minnesota 

Salvation Army locations across North Dakota and Greater Minnesota raised a total of $9 million, slightly exceeding their combined fundraising goal of nearly $8.9 million.

Pile of red kettlesThirteen of The Salvation Army’s 19 locations in both states met or exceeded their individual Christmas fundraising goals.

The North Dakota cities of Grand Forks, Minot and Williston fared especially well. The Grand Forks Salvation Army raised nearly $438,000 – the most in its 124-year history. Minot beat its Christmas goal of $218,000 thanks in part to an unexpected gift of $50,000. Williston roared past its fundraising goal of $184,000 after a monster comeback effort (read story).

“We cannot thank Williston residents enough for rising to the challenge,” said Captain Cappy Moore, co-leader of the Williston Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army in Rochester, Minn., was no slouch, either. Local residents increased their kettle donations by $75,000 over last Christmas. More blessings arrived as well, including a cashier’s check for $10,000 that was accompanied by a note that read, “No need to repeat my name, as I am just a little old lady passing by. Merry Christmas.”

A man stands outside The Salvation ArmyThe Salvation Army in Mankato, Minn., raised $45,000 in a single day when 16 companies pooled their resources to offer a $30,000 matching opportunity. Local residents answered with $15,000 worth of donations. In the end, the Mankato Salvation Army raised $394,000, surpassing its goal of $392,000.

These stories provide but a glimpse of the generosity The Salvation Army witnessed from Salvation Army supporters throughout the Christmas season.

“We are going to use these dollars to provide food, clothing, housing, spiritual support, and other resources to those who need it most,” Richardson said.

Kettles, kettles, kettles

The 2017 kettle season is in the books. If you volunteered at a red kettle, or gave to one, thank you. Your efforts raised $2.6 worth of kettle donations in the Twin Cities, $2.5 million in Greater Minnesota, and $1.4 million in North Dakota.

Big Brass Blast“We are thrilled with these numbers – they are an increase over what our kettles raised last Christmas,” Richardson said. “We applaud our kettle donors and volunteers.”

The kettle season began in mid-November, when Salvation Army locations far and wide held kickoff events inside shopping malls, outside of grocery stores, and at other venues. The Twin Cities Salvation Army hosted the biggest and loudest celebration of them all – the Big Brass Blast (pictured), which featured more than 70 brass musicians from six states performing Christmas music at Mall of America (see photos).

The kettle season continued until Saturday, Dec. 23, during which time thousands of volunteer bell ringers braved the cold and snow at hundreds of red kettle locations.

In Fergus Falls, Minn., members of the Underwood Lions Club provided enough volunteers to staff one kettle for the entire kettle season.

“Their kettle raised more than $25,000,” said Lt. Anthony Nordan, co-leader of the Fergus Falls Salvation Army. “The Underwood Lions have staffed one kettle for the entire Christmas season every year since 1999. They are incredible.”

Michael GorrAlso incredible: volunteer Michael Gorr (pictured). He bell rang every single minute of the kettle season at Mall of America, for a total of nearly 300 hours (read story).

“Let all the bell ringers know that they are important,” said Gorr, whose heartwarming efforts were featured on KARE 11’s Land of 10,000 Stories (watch video). “When they are ringing, they are helping out so many people.”

Bell ringers being sillyDozens of businesses across Minnesota and North Dakota helped boost kettle donations by providing matching dollars. In northern Minnesota, for example, Mills Fleet Farm in Baxter provided a $20,000 match for all kettle donations made Dec. 21. And in Willmar, Minn., more than $15,700 was raised Dec. 20 thanks to $5,000 matches from both Lakeland Broadcasting and West Central Sanitation (read story).

“Thank you to every person, business and organization that gave to or rang at a kettle this Christmas season,” Richardson said. “Your generosity will help The Salvation Army change lives in 2018.”

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.

Spreading Christmas cheer

Toy shop volunteer shows a toyYour donations of time and money allowed Salvation Army locations across Minnesota and North Dakota to spread the love of Jesus Christ to thousands of children and families. We made their holidays happy by providing toys and hot meals, and groceries for Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.

Toy distributions were held in dozens of cities, including Bismarck, N.D., where The Salvation Army gave away nearly 300 donated bicycles (pictured below) that had been fixed up by inmates at three local prisons (read story).

Bikes in Bismarck“The prisoners repair the bikes, add kickstands, and make them like new,” said Major Faye Flanagan, co-leader of the Bismarck-Mandan Salvation Army.  “It’s amazing what they do.”

In the Twin Cities, seven toy distributions were held throughout the metro area. About 150 volunteers per day helped at each location, stocking toy shelves and helping parents “shop” for toys. Total children served: 15,800.

Vikings receiver Adam Thielen Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen went so far as to buy Christmas presents for five families and deliver the gifts to them personally (read story).

“This is the best thing that ever could have happened,” said Tifini, one of the mothers Thielen helped. She’d recently moved out of a shelter with her three children. “Christmas was not going to happen this year. Now it is.”

An additional all-star holiday performance came from the Vikings offensive line, which donated $5,000 worth of Thanksgiving food baskets from Hy-Vee – enough for 100 families.

In northern Minnesota, hundreds of families in Duluth and surrounding communities benefited from toys donated at Bentleyville Tour of Lights, the Midwest’s premier holiday display.

The O’Donnell family in Duluth donated several shopping carts full of toys. For the past 15 years, the family has spent their money on presents for people other than themselves (read story).

“The boys always love it,” said Karla O’Donnell, whose four sons range in age from 20 to 26. “One of them said he can’t wait to do this with his own kids someday.”

Hot meals are served at The Salvation ArmyIn addition to toys and food boxes, The Salvation Army served hot Christmas dinners – complete with ham, potatoes, and all the fixings – at seven of our locations in Minnesota and North Dakota.

“We are privileged to serve hot Christmas meals in honor of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Richardson said. “We thank the donors and volunteers who make our work possible during the Christmas season and throughout the year.”

Thank you, partners

Cub grocery storeMany generous businesses and organizations supported The Salvation Army throughout the 2017 Christmas season.

Here are some examples of the fun and creative ways our valued partners helped in Minnesota and North Dakota:

– Cub doubled all kettle donation made in the Twin Cities on Nov. 18, up to $20,000.

– The Celebrate the Light Christmas display in Willmar, Minn. raised $157,000 for The Salvation Army. In the past 10 years, the 600,000-light spectacle has gathered a total of $810,000 (read story).

Cole Aldrich gives a Christmas present– Minnesota Timberwolves center Cole Aldrich (pictured) threw a private Christmas party at Target Center for two families served by the Twin Cities Salvation Army (read story).

Blue Door Pub donated 850 Thanksgiving meals that were served at five Salvation Army locations in the Twin Cities. Blue Door has made a similar donation in each of the past four years.

– Super One Foods provided $50,000 worth of matching dollars for kettle donations made Dec. 18–23 at its stores in Duluth, Minn. and five surrounding communities.

– The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation contributed $250,000 toward our two-day, $1.5 million matching opportunity Dec. 22–23 in the Twin Cities. A long-time supporter of The Salvation Army, Schulze founded Best Buy and grew up in St. Paul.

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

– The Trans-Siberian Orchestra donated $1 of every ticket sold for its Dec. 30 concerts at Xcel Energy Center (pictured). Total raised: $27,800.

– For the fourth Christmas in a row, Great Northern Environmental gave a gift card to all 96 residents of our Hope Harbor housing facility (read story). This year the Oakdale-based company increased its giving to also include gift cards for residents of The Salvation Army Booth Brown House youth housing facility in St. Paul.

Chick-fil-A mascot rings a bellChick-fil-A of Bloomington raised more than $2,100 by donating half its cookie sales in December and by setting out a small countertop kettle next to its cash register.

– Dozens of local media personalities, royalty, musicians, and mascots raised almost $3,000 on Dec. 22 during Celebrity Bell Ringing Day at Mall of America (view photos). The event included a 90-minute performance by singer Kat Perkins of “The Voice” fame.

– Real estate professionals across Minnesota and North Dakota helped raise tens of thousands of dollars by bell ringing Dec. 1 during Ring Day 2017.

Minneapolis firefighters ring bells– Minneapolis firefighters continued their decades-long tradition of bell ringing in downtown Minneapolis during another year of “Buck the Boot” (pictured). At this year’s event on Dec. 15, those who gave a $20 bill had their donation matched by $100 thanks to an anonymous donor.

– UnitedHealth Group executive vice president Jeannine Rivet and husband Warren Herreid II hosted a Christmas party for members of the local William Booth Society.

Hy-Vee check presentation– Some efforts make great cents: Hy-Vee raised $10,000 (pictured) by allowing its customers to round up their grocery purchases throughout the Christmas season.

– The Deluxe Corporation Foundation donated $30 on Dec. 8 every time those on social media wore red and posted a selfie with the hashtag #RedOut. Total raised: $5,000. In addition, on Dec. 2 Deluxe offered $5,000 worth of matching dollars for kettle donations made at Grand Meander, an annual shopping event along Grand Ave. in St. Paul (read story).

– iHeartRadio on-air personalities recruited bell ringers and encouraged kettle donations in a fun video series called “Kettle Karaoke”:

Moving forward

The Salvation Army Northern Division is already hard at work using Christmas donations to serve people and families in crisis across Minnesota and North Dakota.

A woman eats a mealAs we dive deeper into 2018, more help will be needed. Although Christmas donations account for a large chunk of The Salvation Army’s yearlong budget, they are not enough to sustain us year-round.

The best way to support The Salvation Army’s yearlong efforts is to give monthly. There are other easy ways to give as well, all of which are tax-deductible:

  • Make a credit card donation by calling 800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769)
  • Mail a check to 2445 Prior Ave N., Roseville, MN 55330
  • Donate stock, mutual funds, or IRA funds (learn more)

Thank you for supporting The Salvation Army now and throughout 2018.