The Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign was $64,000 short of its goal Monday, just days before the iconic buckets disappear for the season.
Services could be affected if the $237,000 fundraising target isn't reached, said Timothy Smith, social service director.
"This is a substantial portion of our annual budget," Smith said of the Red Kettle campaign's significance.
If the annual fundraiser falls short, he said, the nonprofit agency that has helped more than 12,000 people this year will look for ways to make budget cuts.
The Salvation Army seeks to raise $4,000 more than last year, and it has a wider gap to close this week than it did last year at this time – 27% versus 3%.
"We do have less bell ringers out right now," Smith said. "At this point, we can't fill all the locations we can ring at. We just don't have the manpower."
People with a few hours to spare could change that.
Individuals and groups – such as families, friends and coworkers – can sign up to ring a bell at www.registertoring.com. Locations include Kroger and Walmart stores throughout Fort Wayne as well as such retailers as Hobby Lobby and JCPenney.
Smith said the Salvation Army asks volunteers for a minimum two-hour commitment.
Bell ringing ends Friday.
"It is a lot of fun to go out with a group," Smith said.
Along with the kettles, donations are accepted at www.safortwayne.org and the Salvation Army, 2901 N. Clinton St. The money will stay in Allen County, Smith said, adding NAI Hanning & Bean is matching donations.
The dollars can add up to make a difference, Smith said: $25 can feed a family of four; $50 can support a kit for the agency's neonatal intensive care unit program; and $200 can help prevent an eviction or keep utilities on.
Any donation – whether it's monetary or time – will directly impact the community, he said.
He shared this statement describing the Salvation Army's work: "From relief for flood victims, to emergency assistance to families who are unexpectedly unemployed, to 'back to school' supplies for children, to the hurting people in great need throughout our community and so much more, the Salvation Army is one of our community's greatest assets in times of difficulty."