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The red kettles near many area stores are ready for a new season and a new goal – even with fears of tough economic times on the horizon. Salvation Army Quad Cities officials announced a $770,000 goal for its traditional holiday Red Kettle Campaign during a kickoff event on Friday, Nov. 4. (Last year’s goal was $750,000, and actually brought in more than $780,000.) Money raised from the red kettles helps with local Salvation Army programs, such as providing housing, food pantries and many other services. That new goal can be reached even though the region is facing rising inflation and fears of a coming recession, Salvation Army officials said. “When times are tough … the public has been very generous. But inflation is the wild card this year,” Salvation Army Major Bob Doliber, the campaign’s Quad Cities coordinator, said after Friday’s ceremony that attracted about 50 business leaders at the Hy-Vee store, 4064 E. 53rd St., Davenport. He added that inflation and other economic fears have driven many area residents to use Salvation Army services in recent times. In recent weeks, there has been a surge of requests from people needing help paying their rents, needing food from food pantries and other assistance in the Quad Cities, Mr. Doliber said. One of those people who has benefited from Salvation Army services spoke during the campaign kickoff. The man, only identified as Muhammed, told the crowd that he came to the United States from Sudan in 2013 but has faced tough times in his new home country. He was homeless in Iowa City with his wife and two young children and sought the Salvation Army’s help in getting housing for his family and other needed assistance. “I’m really grateful for the help I received,” he told the crowd. The ceremony also raised awareness of the need for more volunteer help from the community. The organization’s goal is to reach 2,500 volunteer hours in the Quad Cities, and it has a dire need for more volunteers to ring the bell at its red kettles. Many of those kettles do not have bell ringers, and kettles without a person ringing the bell nearby bring in relatively few donations, Salvation Army officials said. “I have always said that an unmanned kettle is an empty kettle,” Mr. Doliber told the crowd. He added that there will be about 40 red kettle locations in the Quad Cities area this season. At the ceremony, a red kettle – along with a bell ringer – were outside the Hy-Vee store. Last year, about 23% of area red kettles had bell ringers, and Salvation Army officials fear fewer than 20% of this year’s kettles will have people ringing the bells. With the lack of volunteers, a few people have been hired to ring the bells. So far, the regional Salvation Army has hired five people in Illinois Quad Cities and 15 people on the Iowa side. “We have a lot of room for improvements here. … I have been trying to tell people that this is a fun activity and it is easy,” Mr. Doliber added. For more information on becoming a bell ringer, go to www.registertoring.org. The kickoff also brought out local political and business leaders to support Salvation Army efforts. Davenport Mayor Mike Matson urged the community to help the red kettle campaign this holiday season. “There are many needs all the time. … We applaud your efforts to help,” he said. Linda Andry, president and CEO of Ascentra Credit Union, called the Salvation Army “a blessing to our community.” Mr. Doliber also thanked business supporters, such as Acentra and Hy-Vee. He added that about 43% of the local red kettle money raised during the season comes at Hy-Vee sites in the Quad Cities.