Published: Dec 17, 2012 5:56 PM EST
Updated: Dec 17, 2012 6:41 PM EST

FORT MYERS, Fla.-  The Salvation Army announced today that it is only 54 percent of the way toward its goal for the Red Kettle campaign this year. With only seven days left to ring, this means the charity will need to raise $55,000 per day to meet their stated goal.

For the past three years, The Salvation Army has averaged a goal $600,000 for its traditional Christmas fundraising campaign. This year’s target of $720,000 represents a 20 percent increase in the goal. Funds raised in this drive are used to share the joy of Christmas with thousands of needy children and to support The Salvation Army’s other programs throughout the year. Increased need in one of these programs is making the Army’s fundraising success more crucial than ever before.

The Salvation Army operates the only emergency shelter for homeless families in Lee County, and is overwhelmed with parents and children needing a safe place to stay. Rather than turn these families away, The Salvation Army is stretching every dollar to feed and shelter them – but without additional funds, it won’t be able to keep up for much longer.

“The increased number of families we’re serving – over and above those we’ve budgeted for – will cost The Salvation Army in excess of $100,000 this year,” said Major Tom Louden, Area Commander for The Salvation Army. “The red kettle effort is absolutely critical in raising the money to provide this essential service for the most vulnerable in our community. If ever we needed a Christmas miracle, the time is now.”