Salvation Army struggles to make goal

It's the season for giving, and for the Salvation Army, that means lots of bell-ringers.

This year has been particularly tough for the charity with fewer people able to give.

This is Dennis Thomas' first year ringing the bell for the Salvation Army outside J.C. Penny at Fashion Square.

The Salvation Army says 90% of Saginaw County bell ringers are paid and that most of them are otherwise unemployed or under-employed.

"It helps me out by helping other people around me. If they're uplifted, I'm uplifted," says Thomas.

NBC25 found several people putting money in the kettle.

Scott Kuhlman from St. Charles made a donation Friday afternoon. "Every time I go by these things I usually put money in there," says Kuhlman.

For the last eight years, the Saginaw County Salvation Army has met or exceeded its goal.

For 2009, Saginaw County's goal was $262,000. It raised $272,000.

This year's goal is $270,000. Right now, it's more than $12,000 short a week before Christmas.

"It seems foot traffic is down three to five percent," says Major Wayne Ruston of the Saginaw County Salvation Army.

The charity says every little bit helps.

"We bank $50 or more in pennies every night. That's a large amount of pennies," says Ruston.

There are 48 bell-ringing locations across Saginaw County.

You've probably also noticed some of the bell-ringers singing and dancing.

NBC25 asked why that's the case.

The Salvation Army says there's a rewards program where ringers get paid more for meeting their goals.