The Salvation Army of Washtenaw County kicked off its annual Red Kettle campaign Friday at Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor.
Major Kris Wood is Washtenaw County Salvation Army Coordinator. He says the money dropped into the kettles goes toward providing food and shelter, including help for families who find themselves without a home.
"We find that families are the victims more than anyone else who is in crisis," Wood says. "And there are times when we find out about a situation too late and we can't prevent homelessness in that situation. So then we have a place for them to go."
That place is the Staples Family Center in Ann Arbor, which has room for 36 people. The Salvation Army also assists homeless veterans at Veterans Haven of Hope House.
Wood says while the economy has improved, the need for assistance with food and shelter has not decreased. Quite the opposite is true.
"Last year we added 600 families we helped at Christmas time. We're well over 700 families right now, and we're still receiving more."
Wood says giving has stayed fairly steady, even through difficult economic times.
Money raised over the holidays helps fund the work the Salvation Army does year round, like provide housing for homeless families and veterans.
An average of eighty-two cents from every dollar dropped into a Red Kettle in Washtenaw County goes to help provide essential services in the county.