The organization raised $100,097 this year, a 22 percent increase compared to last year’s record of $81,800.
“To crack the $100,000 raised mark is simply astonishing to me. Many that attend our (event) are the same folks giving to other phenomenal causes right here in Clark County,” said Ryan Ray, the development director of the Springfield Salvation Army. “The giving spirit here and the compassion that looms is really second to none... I am convinced that there is absolutely nothing we can’t accomplish here in the community if our arms stay interlocked.”
The Highway Hikers broke the single table record by raising $17,002, taking home the group’s third overall “Gold Kettle” award and the second one in a row. Last year’s single table record raised was $7,967, also by the Highway Hikers.
“This year, they blew (last year’s record) out of the water by brining and dropping $17,002 into the red kettle sitting in the middle of their table,” Ray said.
Each table has a minimum sponsorship, but many give beyond that amount, and many do some fundraising before the event to raise their overall table total. All tables have a kettle that gets counted while guests are eating. Then after lunch, the Gold Kettle winners and the total amount raised is announced.
The money raised will be used beyond Christmas, as the organization continues to meet the needs of the community, Ray said.
During the event, the county’s largest snowball fight was also held to “give a chance for adults to be kids again.” Each guest was given a fake snowball at their place setting, and right in the middle of the program, Sheriff Deb Burchett stood up and initiated the snowball fight.
The event also included a brass ensemble and the Emmanuel Christian Select Choir playing Christmas music, and Destiny Leiker was presented with the “Others” award for her faithful service to children of Clark County at Christmas.
This event, which started in 2009, is the group’s biggest fundraiser of the year and helps meet the need in Clark County in the winter months and beyond through a variety of programs and services.