ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WFRV) – On Thursday, the Salvation Army of Greater Green Bay publicly announced the 2023 Christmas Campaign goal at the Hy-Vee in Ashwaubenon.

Advisory Board Member Bill Matheson, Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich, Hy-Vee Store Manager Jake Dryer, and PMI Entertainment Group Senior Corporate Communications Manager Terry Charles attended to make statements.

The campaign is an annual event to inform people about seasonal volunteer opportunities and ways to bring together the community to help support The Salvation Army’s mission to provide for the less fortunate throughout the holiday season.

Thursday’s program was the 132nd annual event, including information on Red Kettle Match Days and the launch of a new bell-ringer ticket giveaway sponsored by The Resch Complex.

The Christmas Campaign is the biggest fundraiser of the year. As such, the campaign’s success relies upon local businesses hosting red kettles.

“We’re 100% reliant on volunteer bell ringers here in Greater Green Bay and without people at the kettle, there’s no money that’d be brought in,” said Major Matt O’Neil. “That being said the pre-pandemic numbers were about 75,000 and since then we’ve crashed but we’re slowly starting to build back up.”

Last year The Salvation Army set a goal of 1.335 million. Major Matt O’Neil, Greater Green Bay Area Coordinator, officially announced that the organization’s campaign goal for the 2023 holiday season has increased to 1.4 million.

With inflation and other factors, families in the Greater Green Bay area need support now more than ever.

“Some of the things are harder for them to get, for instance even groceries or gas in their car, things like that,” explained Major Matt O’Neil. “With the cost of inflation and the cost of living just going up it’s just harder and harder for families.”

Becky Darrow, The Salvation Army’s Director of Social Services, told Local 5’s Samantha Petters the decision to raise the goal was due to the hope of providing the best quality of service to the community this season and in the coming year.

“Our campaign goal increasing just supports us to potentially hire new staff but also be able to meet the needs that are coming in,” said Darrow. “Rent assistance is a really big one.”

Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich called the campaign the worthiest of worthy causes and said the Green Bay area has a strong sense of community, making him confident the city can help The Salvation Army meet its goal.

“This is a really vital campaign for us here within this community to pull together to support those who are less fortunate, especially around the holiday season,” said Mayor Genrich.

If you are interested in registering to be a bell ringer or want to help out and donate, you can go to The Salvation Army’s website for more information.