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Red Kettles Running Low

The Western Pennsylvania Divison of the Salvation Army reports declining donations this year, as the slumping economy continues to dampen charitable giving across the nonprofit sector.

The problem is circular, according to Major William Bode, Divisional Commander for 28 western Pennsylvania counties. Apart from making fundraising that much more difficult, hard economic times have also swollen the ranks of what Bode calls "the new poor" who now rely on charity. Ironically, they're often the same people who once supported the Salvation Army with donations.

"They've always been donors," Bode said. "But this year they cannot donate because of the situation they find themselves in."

The Salvation Army has less than a week to reach its overall Christmas campaign goal of $6 million."We're still needing support because we are behind in our kettle efforts across western Pennsylvania, to the tune of about $74,000," Bode said.

Cash donations can be placed in any of the thousands of iconic red kettles outside of area retailers and other public spaces. Prospective donors are also urged to give using the Salvation Army's free Bellringer app (iOS) or the Online Red Kettle website.

In addition to donations, the charity is asking for volunteers. Volunteers are "desperately needed" throughout the region, according to a release, and especially in the Mt. Lebanon/Brookline area.