Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Leon and Susan Godeke portrait

Couple fights for good by counting kettle donations

Added on Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Question: Ever wonder who counts all the money donated to our red kettles?

Answer: Volunteers like Leon and Susan Godeke. They fight for good by spending hours and hours sorting thousands of dollars worth of bills and loose change. Up to 25 volunteers per day engage in this activity behind the bulletproof doors of a local security company.

This Christmas season, the Godekes have sorted money found inside hundreds of red kettles in the Twin Cities. In addition to cash, they sometimes discover big checks; just the other day they found one for $4,000. And, Susan explained, at least once a year an anonymous donor will give a cashier’s check equal to his or her entire social security income for the year. Sometimes the Godekes find expensive rings, too.

Kettle illustrationThe Godekes enjoy counting kettle donations because they know that the money goes on to become food, clothing, housing, and other critical services for struggling families.

“Volunteering is a win-win because we’re having fun while we’re helping others,” Susan said.

The Godekes have been volunteering for the Salvation Army for over 30 years. Susan fondly recalls the first time she volunteered; it was at a coat drive at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. She and Leon sorted the coats by size and gender. They thought the job was fun, so they decided to keep volunteering.

“We like the Salvation Army – it’s one of our favorite charities,” said Leon, who went on volunteer as a Salvation Army driver and collected coats, toys and food donations. “We like it because the donations go right to the people in need.”

When Susan was younger, her grandfather, Arthur, used to say, “You can’t go wrong with The Salvation Army.”

That statement stuck with Susan and has inspired her and Leon to continue to volunteer year after year.

Poverty is an everyday battle that families don’t always win. Thankfully, there is an army of loving people like you who fight on their behalf. Your generosity puts food on their table, presents under their tree, and joy in their hearts. Join the fight for good by donating online or at a red kettle, becoming a volunteer bell ringer, or recruiting your own army of fundraisers at Learn more about how The Salvation Army fights poverty in your community.