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Salvation Army kettle drives struggle with shorter holiday shopping season

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  The calendar has not been kind to the Salvation Army.

Chapters in La Crosse and Green Bay both say their donations are way down from a year ago due to a shorter holiday shopping season. That's because Thanksgiving came a week later than last year.

In La Crosse, the Salvation Army's Red Kettles have brought in $40,000 -- down from $51,000 at this time in 2012. In Green Bay, the Salvation Army of Brown County has collected 30-percent less from its Red Kettles, and 25-percent less in its general Christmas donations.

Julie Nelson of La Crosse tells WKBT-TV that a lack of volunteer bell-ringers is also keeping donations down. Kathryn Paul of the Brown County chapter tells WLUK-TV that bell-ringers are actually up from a year ago -- but 54-percent of the available bell-ringing slots are still open. Nelson is counting on a big push in donations over the next few weeks. She says the Christmas donations pay for all of her organization's service efforts -- including an emergency shelter and meal programs for the needy.