BLOOMINGTON — The Salvation Army of McLean County reached its Red Kettle campaign goal, thanks to a surge in community giving during the four days before Christmas.

Salvation Army announced that $251,301.68 was raised from Nov. 16 through Dec. 24, surpassing the goal of $240,000 and the $246,425.14 collected last year. Twenty-three kettles were located at stores throughout Bloomington-Normal.

"We want to thank everyone in the community who stepped up to help us achieve our Red Kettle goal — all the donors, volunteers and stores that allowed us to ring outside their locations," Salvation Army Director of Development Angie Fulton said Tuesday. "This was truly a community effort."

Dec. 21 through Dec. 24 was among the busier four-day stretches for the Red Kettles, with Dec. 23 alone bringing in nearly $14,000, Fulton said.

Going into the week before Christmas, extreme cold and icy conditions took their toll on Red Kettle giving and the campaign was behind pace. Salvation Army put out an appeal and a Pantagraph article was published Dec. 20.

McLean County heard the call and stepped up to the challenge, Fulton said.

However, the second part of Salvation Army's annual Make A Difference campaign — the mail appeal and other donations — has not yet achieved its goal.

As of Tuesday, $184,953.50 had been raised toward the mail appeal goal of $250,000.

"We still have a ways to go with our mail appeal and other donations but we are confident we will see that number go up in the coming days," Fulton said. "We are truly blessed to live in such a supportive community."

The mail appeal runs through the end of the week.

Donations may be made online at www.sabloomington.org or by mail to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 3186, Bloomington, IL 61702-3186.

Adding the mail appeal to the Red Kettles, $436,255.18 has been raised toward the Make A Difference campaign goal of $490,000.

Last year's campaign raised $492,535.75.

Results of the Make A Difference campaign will be announced in January.

Money from the campaign supports Salvation Army programs, including the food pantry, comprehensive emergency assistance (rent/mortgage, utility payments, prescriptions, fuel, clothing and furniture), the Safe Harbor homeless shelter and youth summer camp and after-school programs.

Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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