Thursday, April 25, 2024

United they stand

Staff Writer | December 2, 2020 1:08 AM

COEUR d'ALENE — On the surface, The Salvation Army Kroc Center's Mayors Kettle event is a competition pitting cities against one another to raise money for families.

In reality, it's a fundraiser for hope.

Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., four Kootenai County mayors stood outside the Kroc Center ringing bells and waving The Salvation Army's signature red kettles.

The first donation of the day went to Post Falls Mayor Ron Jacobson. As he and Coeur d'Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer stood in the Kroc Center roundabout, they reflected on its essential role in Kootenai County.

"The need continues to grow bigger than it ever has been," Jacobson said. "This has affected everybody, including some of the people that were already really struggling. One of the amazing things about this community is how people step up to help each other, and this is a prime example of that."

Not only is it the need that has accelerated this year, Widmyer noted, but the worry.

"I think the community is pretty stressed out. It affects everyone from health care workers to small business owners to grocery store clerks," he said.

Over the last eight years, local mayors have raised more than $152,000 for the Red Kettle program that made its mark as the Kroc Center's most successful event of the year. All donations go to the Kroc Center's social service programs.

Last year, the Mayors Kettle event raised around $27,000.

With 30 days left to reach its Red Kettle goal of $190,000, Christy Markham, Kroc Center director of development, said the Mayors Kettle could boost the current tally of $52,402.

Architects West promised to match each dollar donated at the Mayors Kettle up to $5,000.

"Architects West has always been a supporter of the kettles. They volunteer for three different days and write a check out of the company bank account," Markham said.

Typically the event is held at Fred Meyer, but to keep it COVID-friendly, Kroc Center staff set up a drive-thru fundraiser outside its Coeur d'Alene location.

Hayden Mayor Steve Griffitts, Santa Claus, and two Disney princesses stood on the corner of Ramsey Road by the Kroc Center, ringing their bells to flag down donations.

Griffitts has participated in the Mayors Kettle for the past nine years. To him, this fundraiser is a beacon of hope.

"Right now, hope is in great need. People need to know that tomorrow will be better, that this is not something that is going to devastate us," he said. "We've recovered from so many difficult times in our lives, and this is just one of them."

Fernan Lake Village Mayor Heidi Acuff said she has seen the need for extra assistance in the community.

"I think with human nature, there is always hope, and anything that can get the community together brings energy and gives people hope," Acuff said.


Hayden Mayor Steve Griffitts shakes his bell on Tuesday morning encouraging Kootenai County residents to participate in The Salvation Army Kroc Center's red kettle program. (MADISON HARDY/Press)


The Mayors' Kettle program through The Salvation Army Kroc Center is the most successful fundraiser of the year, helping to provide social services for Kootenai County families in need. Pictured from left: Post Falls Mayor Ron Jacobson, Fernan Lake Village Mayor Heidi Acuff, Coeur d'Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer. (MADISON HARDY/Press)