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A strategy for Red Kettle giving

The size of a community's heart is measured by the level of compassion it has for its most vulnerable populations. Since the late 1800s, the Salvation Army has been a leader in meeting basic human needs in communities from San Francisco to New York. Today the seasonal Red Kettle campaign also provides hope for individuals and families in Europe, Korea, Japan and Chile.

In 2011, more than 5,040 Fargo-Moorhead Salvation Army kettle volunteers donated 7,200 hours of service. This year 5,500 volunteers are being recruited to staff 33 separate locations. The Salvation Army's 2012 kettle campaign goal is $825,000 (two-thirds of the annual operating budget). I think our collective hearts can raise even more dollars using a few simple strategies:

• Be a "deer." Never pass a kettle without putting in a "buck" or at least a quarter of a "buck."

• Be a role model. Include your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and the neighborhood kids (with permission, of course) in donating and volunteering.

• Be grateful. Count your own blessings every time you slip money into the kettle, and remember to say "thank you" to the volunteers. Every single kettle contribution is an ingredient in a recipe for a successful new start for children, families and individuals in need in our community.

If we exercise our hearts by giving generously to the Salvation Army kettle campaign, our collective community heart could conceivably raise more than $1 million. When the Salvation Army bells ring this year, let's respond with a million bucks, proving that we do indeed care deeply and measurably.

Margie Bailly,

2012 Honorary Kettle Chairwoman