The Salvation Army kettle drive in Spring Valley raised $8,347 this year, the most ever raised locally.

The drive, coordinated by Spring Valley Kiwanis, raises funds for the Salvation Army. All the funds raised during this drive remain in Fillmore County. The money raised is important because 88 percent of the budget of the Fillmore County Salvation Army Service Unit is comprised of the funds collected in the kettle drive, reported Joan A. Kidd, secretary of the local unit.

The drive was slow going at first, partially due to the slim timeframe between Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as the cold weather this winter, said Spring Valley Kiwanis member Steve Hadoff, who collects the funds and sends them to the Salvation Army. The rush at the end put the total over last year's amount as the upward trend in Spring Valley each year continues.

Although the drive is a project of Kiwanis, he said it has become a community and area event with people from all over helping out. For example, members of the Chester Methodist Church pick two entire days to staff the kettle and ring bells in support of the project. Day care homes and high school students, who add to the spirit of giving by singing Christmas carols, have also helped ring the bells in support of donations to the kettles.

"You can really tell a difference in the amount collected in the kettle when a person is there ringing the bell," said Hadoff. The kettles are placed at Sunshine Foods and Alco throughout the season for donations, but don't always have people with them to attract more attention to the project.

The Kingsland Elementary School also pitched in this year, bringing in coins as part of a project emphasizing positive behavior at the school. The $597 collected was turned over to Kiwanis for the kettle drive.

The county as a whole collected $18,086, which was turned over to the Salvation Army. Haddoff said Rushford and Lanesboro hadn't turned over their funds yet, so weren't included in the total.