Dancing with the Stars flames out

ROBIN CAUDELL/STAFF PhotoThe Salvation Army of Clinton County needs volunteers for its annual Red Kettle Campaign, which begins in November.

PLATTSBURGH — The Salvation Army of Clinton County’s “Dancing with the Stars of Clinton County” has wiped out before one misstep.

The inaugural fund-raising event was slated for Oct. 19.

DANCE DISRUPTION

“We’ve had to cancel the fundraiser,” Diane Ross, public relations coordinator for the Salvation Army of Clinton County, said.

“However, we had already printed 1,700 fliers, and the fliers had gone out in a mailing with the Chamber of Commerce.”

The fliers were sent countywide to promote the event and ask for support.

“We had also sent out letters looking for sponsorship for tables and advance tickets, that sort of thing, back in July in preparation for this,” Ross said.

“However the dance instructors, we had difficulty with and they did not follow through with the dance instruction of the Clinton County stars. There was no dance instruction going on meaning there was no preparation going on as far as dance choreography.” The stars, local celebrities, were tasked to learn only one dance in contrast to the multiple ones executed on the televised version of the popular program.

“We did not find this out until the last week in August,” Ross said.

“We had to cancel the event at the last minute. So what we’re trying to do is get the information out there as efficiently as possible but at the same time the need hasn’t changed for the Salvation Army.”

FUNDS DOWN

The reason why the agency was attempting the dance was to put an infusion of funds in the annual Red Kettle drive.

“Across the country, the Red Kettle Campaign have been dropping because people don’t typically carry cash with them anymore, especially in Clinton County,” Ross said.

“Our red kettles have really dropped off significantly in the last few years, and we are in dire straits in Clinton County. We’re truly just trying to keep things going there in Plattsburgh.”

This year mark’s the Salvation Army’s 115th year in Plattsburgh.

“We want to be able to continue to provide services that the community has come to count on,” Ross said.

“We want to continue for another 115-plus years in Clinton County but in order to do that, again, we need to have the community come together hopefully and support us.”

RECOVER & ADJUST

For Major Robin Hager, the financial landscape is a little more difficult.

“We’re continuing to pursue other fund raising options,” she said.

“We’re putting a very concentrated effort on our red kettles, which will be starting Nov. 9.”

The international movement’s 2nd annual Craft & Vendors Show will be held Oct. 5 at its 4804 South Catherine St. location.

“ We will be focusing a lot on our craft show,” Hager said.

“We’re just grateful for everything that people have done for us. We can’t do what we do without the help of others.”

BELL RINGERS

Typically, the agency’s Red Kettle bell ringers are volunteers, who will change out possibly three or four times a day at any given kettle.

“To have those white (credit card payment) squares is a security nightmare,” Ross said.

“Because otherwise that would be a wonderful idea. If you had a paid employee standing at one kettle all day long that would be a great idea.

“But when you have the turnover throughout the day and given that they are volunteers, they are wonderful volunteers who a number of them come back every year, but still it’s a security nightmare.”

She doesn’t know if people would feel comfortable giving their cards.

“We have tried online campaigns,” Ross said.

“They have not met with great success depending on what part of the country you’re in, depending on what part of the state you’re in.”

CALLING CREATIVES

A new initiative is “Paint the Red Kettle” campaign.

“We will be introducing it in the schools and hopefully create some interest at the high-school level,” Ross said.

She envisions a friendly competition between rival schools.

“See what school district or which schools can be the most creative with the painting of the red kettles and have folks vote on that,” Ross said.

“We’re hoping to do a coin drop possibly somewhere within the city. Those details haven’t been ironed out just yet.”

CHANGING TIMES

The doors closed on the Salvation Army Store on Montcalm Avenue due to a lack of volunteers and a lack of shoppers.

“At any given point, there were some wonderful deals in that store,” Ross said.

“Even at the very end, I tell you when things were 50, 75 and 80-percent off, people didn’t come in.”

She doesn’t know if lack of foot traffic was due to the store’s location.

“That I’m not sure,” Ross said.

“It’s sad to see something like that go. I know it did, for a number of people in the community, I know it did provide reasonably priced store to shop and get some basic items that people need. That was very sad to see happen, and we tried very hard not to have that happen.”

STAYS LOCAL

Hager, and her husband, Mark, were working with Ross on the dance program.

“The money that is raised with the red kettle and all the money that is raised in Plattsburgh stays in Plattsburgh,” Ross said.

“It does support the basic expenses right down to keeping the lights on in the building to providing food for the Food Bank and the Bible studies and all the activities that goes on at the Salvation Army.

Activities include food boxes and Thanksgiving meal, clothing vouchers, and free lunches for children during the summer months. Food boxes and thanksgiving meals.

“We really do a tremendous amount of work in the community and I always say no matter what Salvation Army I’ve worked in or worked for, they are typically one of the best kept secrets in town,” Ross said.

“It’s always a challenge getting them known.”

FEEDING THE HUNGRY

In Plattsburgh, lunches are served at 11:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

“And the surplus food they take home can feed their families on the off days,” Ross said.

“Oh my heavens, it’s incredible to thank the stores and restaurants that donate their surplus food to us is phenomenal. It gives me goosebumps whenever I am there to help out with that because it’s inspiring, absolutely inspiring.”

Volunteers are definitely needed come Red Kettle time.

“We had so many kettles that we couldn’t even place last year because we never had people to stand at them and ring the bell,” Ross said.

“That of course influences how much money you can raise. If we can’t put out the kettles, we can’t certainly raise any money off of them, right? We really need to increase the volunteers to ring the bell. If people could still donate money, hopefully we will revisit the Dancing with the Stars next year. We will do things a little bit differently with our dance instruction.”

Email Robin Caudell:

rcaudell@pressrepublican.com

Twitter:@RobinCaudell

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