It was a very difficult holiday fundraising season for Salvation Army bell-ringers in the Casper area.

Salvation Army captain Kathy Merritt says a shortened collection period and difficult weather significantly impacted Red Kettle campaign donations this year.

“We’re going to be $15,000 or $16,000 short for the total campaign, which is directly going to affect the Casper community,” Merritt said. “Every cent we collect in the Red Kettle goes to help families in need.”

Merritt says the campaign funds several local Salvation Army-driven initiatives linked to food security, housing and utilities. The agency was able to reach its $70,000 goal last year.

“We did hit our goal last year – it was the same goal (this year),” Merritt said. “It needed to be increased this year, but we did not increase it because we weren’t sure what the economy was doing. And, like, I said, we’re having this shortfall of, I’m guessing, $16,000.”

The 2013 Red Kettle campaign ended Dec. 24. Merritt says the Salvation Army will accept post-campaign donations by mail and in-person at the agency's headquarters in downtown Casper.