2018 Christmas Review newsletter

Portrait of Amanda Brinkman and Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson

Our Christmas Review online newsletter provides exciting news and highlights from The Salvation Army’s 2018 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 2018 Christmas season. Your generosity will help sustain our life-changing programs throughout the coming year.

Christmas Campaign raises millions

The Salvation Army Northern Division raised millions of dollars in Minnesota and North Dakota during the 2018 Christmas season.

Bell ringers laugh at the kettleBetween kettles, online donations and other giving, our supporters in both states gave a combined $20 million.

“We are grateful for the generosity of our supporters who donated during the 2018 Christmas season,” said Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson (pictured at top), leader of The Salvation Army Northern Division. “We are a strong Army – but only as strong as the support we receive.”

In the Twin Cities, The Salvation Army opened the season of giving by tapping noted businesswoman and realty TV star Amanda Brinkman (pictured at top) to serve as Chairperson of our 2018 Christmas Campaign (read story).

“It is an honor to help The Salvation Army fight for good this Christmas season,” Brinkman said.

Giving levels peaked Dec. 21-22 during a Twin Cities matching opportunity called “Two Days, Two Million!” In just 48 hours, the Twin Cities Salvation Army raised more than $2 million via donations from the public and matching funds from a group of individual and corporate donors, including $250,000 from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and $25,000 from Horton Holdings.

Cub president Chad FergusonAnother bright spot: Red kettles at Twin Cities Cub grocery stores alone raised close to $850,000.

“Our partnership with The Salvation Army is so important to us,” said Chad Ferguson, Cub president (pictured). “It’s our way to give back to the community.”

In North Dakota and Greater Minnesota, the majority of The Salvation Army’s 18 locations in both states either met or exceeded their individual Christmas fundraising goals. Total raised: $9 million.

“The money that our supporters gave in North Dakota and Greater Minnesota will provide food, housing, youth activities, and other life-changing services for thousands of people living in communities large and small,” Richardson said. “We are so thankful for this support.”

Christmas donations account for about one third of The Salvation Army’s annual budget. Additional fundraising efforts will continue until the 2019 Christmas Campaign begins in October.

Kettle highlights

officer bell ringingThe 2018 red kettle season is in the books. If you volunteered at a kettle, or dropped money into one, thank you. You helped raise $2.5 million worth of kettle donations in the Twin Cities, $2.4 million in Greater Minnesota, and $1.4 million in North Dakota.

“We applaud every bell ringer and kettle donor who contributed,” Richardson said. “Your time and generosity will allow The Salvation Army to bless countless people and families in 2019.”

Fans donate during Kickoff on IceThe kettle season began in mid-November when Salvation Army locations throughout Minnesota and North Dakota held kickoff events inside shopping malls, outside of grocery stores, and other venues such as Bentleyville in Duluth, Minn. The Twin Cities Salvation Army hosted its kickoff event Nov. 16 at – of all places – a University of Minnesota men’s hockey game (view photos of “Kickoff on Ice”).   

The kettle season continued until Christmas Eve, during which time thousands of volunteer bell ringers braved the cold and snow to fight for good. These volunteers witnessed some incredible kettle donations, such as:

  • Odd kettle donationsA check for $200,000, given by an anonymous Twin Cities resident who donated the exact same amount last year (read story).
  • A diamond ring (pictured) with a handwritten note that read, “I am donating this ring to you. My ex-husband said it was worth $1,500. … I hope this will help people in need.” Several other diamond rings were discovered, along with rare coins and foreign currency.   
  • Nine gifts of $1,400 in cash were dropped into kettles by Saint Grand, an anonymous and affectionately-named donor who has been dropping bundles of crisp $100 bills into Twin Cities kettles every Christmas season since 2011. Since then, Saint Grand has donated a total of $127,700. His or her identity still remains unknown (read story).

International Feed employees bell ringHundreds of businesses helped make the 2018 kettle season a success by offering their employees as bell ringers. That includes International Feed, which doubled its bell ringing participation from 10 employees last year to 20 employees in 2018. Owners Bernie and Carrie Kaiser chose to bell ring at Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka, Minn (pictured), and when a Salvation Army representative showed up to thank them, the Kaisers gave a $10,000 donation.

Businesses also helped by providing matching dollars that spurred kettle donors to give even more. Here are just a few examples:

  • In northern Minnesota, Miner’s Inc. matched all kettle donations – up to $50,000 – made Dec. 17-22 at Super One Foods stores in Duluth and five Iron Range cities. And in the Brainerd Lakes area, Mills Fleet Farm in Baxter provided a $20,000 match for all kettle donations made Dec. 20.
  • In North Dakota, 35 local real estate businesses in Fargo pooled their donations to create a $12,500 match on Dec. 7 during Realtor Ring Day.
  • In southern Minnesota, the Rochester Salvation Army enjoyed big-money matches from Mayo Clinic ($20,000) and Think Mutual Bank ($10,000). In addition, dozens of businesses and Salvation Army advisory board members pitched in to create matches in Albert Lea ($20,000), Mankato ($20,000), and Rochester ($15,000).

A little girl donates to a kettlePerhaps the most incredible kettle donation of all was given by a 4-year-old Twin Cities girl named Cora. Her grandma, Lesley, told us that Cora hadn’t understood that some people don’t have a home to live in. “So where do they sleep?” Cora asked, concerned. She later learned that kettle donations help give people a warm, safe place to sleep. Days after Cora realized this, a relative sent her a Christmas card and a $5 bill. When Cora was asked how she wanted to spend the money, she replied, “I want to go put it in the red bucket!”   

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

Your 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, along with groceries for Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.

Toy shop volunteer shows a toyIn 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: 14,300.

One the parents was a single mother of two little girls. She works as a house cleaner but is barely able to make ends meet. After she picked out toys for her daughters at the Central Ave. Salvation Army in Minneapolis, she told one of our social workers, named Melissa, that her girls otherwise would not have received Christmas presents.

“This mother was beyond happy,” Melissa said. “Seeing the joy on her face brought joy to my heart.”

There was plenty of joy to go around in Northern Minnesota, too – including Duluth and surrounding communities, where hundreds of families benefitted from 15,000 pounds of food and 2,000 toys donated at this year’s Bentleyville Tour of Lights holiday display.

Vikings give turkeysThe Minnesota Vikings offensive line and UnitedHealthcare added to the holiday spirit by providing hundreds of Thanksgiving meals for St. Paul families in need (read story). Together they purchased, packaged and delivered food boxes full of turkey, corn, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, green beans, and other favorites.

“This is an awesome opportunity,” said Vikings center Pat Elflein, while packing a Thanksgiving meal into the trunk of a family’s car. “We’re excited to be here and we’re having fun. It feels great to be a part of something like this.”

Lots of bellies got filled in North Dakota as well: The Fargo Salvation Army distributed Christmas food boxes to 500 families, including 1,100 hams donated by Cloverdale Foods and Hornbacher’s grocery store, with volunteer help from Walmart and Vitalant.

A woman eats a mealIn addition to 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.

While holiday dinners and presents are awesome, one of the most incredible bits of Christmas assistance The Salvation Army offered was the gift of hope to a homeless woman. Below, a Salvation Army caseworker named Calie explains:

One of our delivery drivers was on her way back to the Brooklyn Park Salvation Army to drop off some red kettles when she saw a woman in her 30s on the side of the road. The woman was hunched over and rocking back and forth. Seeing that the woman was in deep despair, our driver asked her if she’d like to get in the van and come to The Salvation Army. The woman agreed.

I made breakfast for the woman when she arrived. She ate three plates of food.

I soon learned that the woman had been released from prison recently and was homeless. She suffered from lupus and had sores on her face. She didn’t know where to go or what to do. She was in crisis mode.

My coworkers and I gave the woman a number of resources, including information about shelter and housing options. She was thankful for the information. She asked if somebody could take her to a methadone clinic, so one of my coworkers did. We are hopeful that this woman will get help and stabilize.

This story goes to show how important it is to pay attention to the people around us – not just during Christmastime, but all the time. Our delivery driver could have sped past this woman and kept on driving. But she didn’t. Instead, she stopped what she was doing to demonstrate the love of Christ.

Thank you, partners

Many generous businesses and organizations supported The Salvation Army throughout the 2018 Christmas season.

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

Adam Thielen poses with Salvation Army familiesMinnesota Vikings star wideout Adam Thielen threw a Christmas party for 10 Salvation Army families at TCO Performance Center in Eagan (view photos). The two-hour event on Dec. 18 featured dinner, personal time with Thielen, piles of presents from the Thielen Foundation, and grocery gift cards from Cub.

– St. Paul firefighters raised more than $11,600 by bell ringing at Xcel Energy Center before six Minnesota Wild hockey games.

– The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation contributed $250,000 toward our “Two days, Two million!” matching opportunity Dec. 21–22 in the Twin Cities. Schulze, a long-time supporter of The Salvation Army, founded Best Buy and grew up in St. Paul.

– The Deluxe Corporation Foundation provided $10,000 worth of matching dollars on Giving Tuesday. Total raised: $53,000.

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

Justin Morneau poses with Joe Mauer and Cory Koskie– Former Minnesota Twin Justin Morneau and Fan HQ organized a coat drive that brought in 5,600 coats for Twin Cities families in need. Morneau’s former teammates, Joe Mauer and Corey Koskie, joined him Dec. 1 for a celebration and autograph signing at Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka.

– Minneapolis firefighters raised more than $2,000 by bell ringing at Target Center before a WWE wrestling event and two Minnesota Timberwolves basketball games.

– AT&T Minnesota donated $10,000 and its customers gave hundreds of winter clothing items (read story).

Dave Ryan of KDWB 101.3– Dozens of local media personalities, royalty, musicians, and mascots raised more than $6,200 on Dec. 21 during Celebrity Bell Ringing Day at Mall of America (view photos). The event included an appearance from Dave Ryan of 101.3 KDWB (pictured) rousing musical performance by up-and-coming pop band Yam Haus.

– The Trans-Siberian Orchestra donated $1 of every ticket sold for its two concerts at Xcel Energy Center on Dec. 29. Total raised: more than $26,000.

– Blue Door Pub donated 1,200 Thanksgiving meals that were served at seven Salvation Army locations in the Twin Cities. Blue Door has made a similar donation in each of the past five years.

– Real estate professionals across Minnesota and North Dakota helped raise tens of thousands of dollars by bell ringing Dec. 7 during Realtor Ring Day 2018.

Greg Patyrn donates coatsMinnesota Wild defenseman Greg Pateryn (pictured) organized a coat drive that produced nearly 300 coats. Wild fans donated the coats before a game at Xcel Energy Center.   

– Donors from the William Booth Society celebrated the Christmas season together during a Dec. 2 event at the Minikahda Club in Minneapolis.

– iHeartRadio on-air personalities recorded a fun video series called “Kettle Karaoke” to recruit bell ringers and encourage kettle donations. Here is one of the videos:

Moving forward

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

Christmas donations account for about one third The Salvation Army’s yearlong budget, which means more financial help will be needed as we dive deeper into 2019.

Serving mealsA great way to support The Salvation Army’s year-round efforts is to give monthly. By becoming a recurring donor, you will provide a steady stream of income that The Salvation Army can depend on to serve others – month after month.

Or, if you would prefer to make a one-time gift:

  • Donate online
  • Make a credit card donation by calling 800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769)
  • Mail a check to The Salvation Army Northern Division, 2445 Prior Ave. N., Roseville, MN 55330
  • Donate stock, mutual funds, or IRA funds by calling 651-746-3504 or 800-456-4483

Thank you for supporting The Salvation Army now and throughout 2019. Your generosity is a blessing.

Read more stories