Linda Isbell and Carol Beberniss

Linda Isbell and Carol Beberniss sort toy bags at the Salvation Army’s distribution center in Florence as workers gather Angel Tree donations.

FLORENCE — The Empty Table Fund saw its largest gain of the 2014 campaign last week, bringing the total to $14,545.

That amount represents a $2,000 increase from where the fund was at this time last year.

"We're thrilled that the fund is doing so well," said Salvation Army Maj. Sue Dorman, adding that the red kettles aren't faring as well this year as last year. "We're a little behind with the kettles, but we're hoping they pick up as they'll be out later, until 8 p.m. through Dec. 23."

The kettles will be taken up for the season at 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve. This year's goal is $140,000.

As for the Empty Table Fund, donations will continue to be taken through the first week of January.

All proceeds go directly to the Salvation Army to help offset the costs of Christmas assistance programs and to help those in need during the remaining winter months.

One such program, the Angel Tree, was successful this year with all 1,600 angels adopted. With a Dec. 10 deadline for gifts to be returned, Dorman said most were in on time, with others trickling in throughout the week.

"Our volunteers at the Christmas Center were a little overwhelmed and more volunteers are still needed to help sort gifts and prepare for distribution beginning Wednesday," Dorman said.

Longtime Salvation Army volunteer Laura Hardeman, said the gifts were returned steadily throughout the season, but last week "really picked up as we neared the deadline."

"It might look like chaos, but it always comes together," she said, motioning toward a sea of gift bags at the Christmas Center.

Dorman said volunteer bell ringers are also still needed as well. Anyone interested in volunteering should call the Salvation Army at 256-764-4432.

The following individuals contributed to the Empty Table Fund last week: Knights of Columbus, $200; Bernice Bennett, $50; Anne M. Dula, $75; Keystone Business Centre, $100; Bear Creek Church/Ladies Sunday School class, $500; Pat Wilson, $50; Heritage Fellowship Church, $1,500; anonymous, $500; anonymous, $500; Robert O'Neil, $25; Karen Thorne, $200; anonymous,$100; anonymous, $500; Bob and Mary Smith, $100; the Wrights, $500; Walter and Sharon Campbell, $250; Rod Slusher, $100; B.J. and Carolyn Kelley, $100; Neil Cross, $300; David A. Mays, $50; Mrs. Arleen Auelsdorf, $35; Mr. and Mrs. Curtis Ahrens, $75; Evelyn W. Parsons, $20; in memory of Lola Blaxton by Jack and Earline Moore, $25; Steve Bond, $500; Tuscumbia Bunco Buddies, $160; Joy White Trousdale, $100; Fedelis Class, North Wood UMC, $50; R.E. Koonce, DMD, $250; Harold Garver, $125; Sara Reed, $50; Christina and Bobby Tate, $100; Tracie and Steve Moore, $100; Ralph and Yvlette Berryman, $50; Sue Willingham, $500; Pair and Spares Class-First Christian Church, $200; anonymous, $200; W.R. Lockhart, $100; in memory of June Butler England by her children, $200.

Lisa Singleton-Rickman can be reached at 256-740-5735 or lisa.singleton-rickman@TimesDaily.com. Follow on Twitter @TD_LSRichkman.

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