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'Mind-boggling' $810,000 in F-M Red Kettle donations

Salvation Army Capt. Bill Mealy reveals the results of the 2010 Red Kettle Campaign on Wednesday in Fargo, along with Capt. Ann Mealy and honorary kettle chairman Erv Inninger. This year's amount far exceeded the goal of $650,000 and last year's results of $745,000. Kristen Daum / The Forum

Despite struggling for donations early in the holiday season, The Salvation Army in Fargo-Moorhead announced Wednesday it received another "record-breaking" amount of donations during its annual Red Kettle Campaign.

The Salvation Army raised $809,570 for 2010 - a "mind-boggling" amount that Capt. Bill Mealy said blew him away. The final total exceeded the goal of $650,000 by nearly 25 percent, or $159,570.

The amount also surpasses the last record-setting amount in 2009, which was $745,000.

Before Christmas, Salvation Army officials had called for more donations, fearing they'd fall short of their goal.

Such a fate would mean difficult budget cuts for the organization, since the Red Kettle Campaign brings in about 56 percent of The Salvation Army's annual budget.

"When all was looking kind of bleak, Fargo-Moorhead kicked in," Mealy said. "When there's a call out there for help, this community is there."

The generosity of Fargo-Moorhead residents will likely pay off in the weeks ahead, as Salvation Army resources will again be available during the next flood fight this spring.

"The value of what people put in those kettles - you're going to see firsthand," said Erv Inninger, the campaign's honorary chairman this year.

About 4,400 volunteers rang bells at 34 locations across the Fargo-Moorhead area during the 2010 holiday season.

Those individuals donated nearly 11,000 hours of their time to the campaign, another record-setting figure, The Salvation Army said.