The Salvation Army was getting a bit nervous about whether its secret Santa could help the charity again this year.
“He did show up,” said Callie Hudson, director of development, on Friday, noting the $50,000 donation was a little later than usual.
Five $10,000 checks were found when the kettles were emptied late on the night of Dec. 20. The checks are usually wrapped inside dollar bills so they can be slipped into a kettle without being noticed.
Hudson said they do not know who the secret Santa is, but he has been a consistent giver.
The anonymous donor has deposited a total of $400,000, in the form of cashier’s checks written at local banks, into some of the 22 kettle sites around Joplin for the past six years.
The Red Kettle campaign is the most important fundraiser for the local Salvation Army.
Lt. James Curry said last week — just before the organization received the anonymous donation — that the Salvation Army’s campaign was running about $86,000 short of its goal of $395,000.
“We are still shy,” Hudson said on Friday when asked about the annual campaign. She encouraged people to continue giving, noting this is the peak season for contributions.
“We tend to get a lot of donations between Christmas and the first of the year,” she said.
She said collections taken in the past few weeks of the year pay for 75 percent to 80 percent of the organization’s annual costs.
“It is mind-blowing how much Christmas means to our organization,” she said.
According to Curry, the funds go toward rent and utility assistance, the organization’s transitional shelter, the daily lunch program and a variety of programming that is targeted specifically to youths and the elderly.
The Joplin Salvation Army serves up to 700 lunches each week all year long, Hudson said.
Callie Hudson, development director of the Salvation Army, said there have been reports of people going door to door attempting to collect donations for the Salvation Army.
“We don’t go door to door. Our recommendation is to call the police,” she said.
Donations to the Salvation Army can be made in person or by mail at 320 E. Eighth St. in Joplin or by visiting the organization’s website at www.tsajoplin.org.