Salvation Army officials speak out about concerns over donations

by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:

RICHMOND COUNTY, N.C. - Salvation Army officials are speaking out about concerns donations in Richmond County are not going to help local residents.

Residents in Rockingham called Channel 9 with fears about where their donations were headed after seeing bell ringers outside the Walmart, Belk and J.C. Penney stores in Rockingham.

Richmond County does not have a Salvation Army office. The nearest offices are 58 miles away, in Asheboro, N.C.; and 71 miles away, in Charlotte, N.C.

"Donations are being given here for our town and going somewhere else to help people in other towns," said resident Shea Kiker.

Kiker said she has even received financial assistance from the Salvation Army before, but she had to work with an office in Winston-Salem and did not believe the dollars she was given were local ones.

Kiker claimed she called the Richmond County Department of Social Services for help connecting with the Salvation Army and said officials at DSS told her there had been issues with funneling donations to residents.

"They said that was their belief that they were helping ... other people ... and that therefore, their funds weren't coming here," Kiker said.

Salvation Army officials in the Asheboro office, which serves three different counties, deny the allegations.

"All the money that we raise and all the services that we provide directly go back into Richmond County in one form or another," said Capt. Curtis Krantz.

Krantz said in 2011, the Salvation Army helped more than 300 people in Richmond County with more than $12,000 in donations, helping residents pay rent and utility bills.

Krantz said in 2012, the Salvation Army has helped 183 people so far, with nearly the same amount of money.

He said a social services worker from the Asheboro office drives to Rockingham once a week and meets with those seeking assistance at the Richmond County DSS office. Krantz also said he hopes the Army will be able to build a satellite office in Rockingham soon.

"The Salvation Army is in Richmond County even though we don't have a physical location," Krantz said.

Officials are warning residents to only donate to bell-ringers who are wearing the official red aprons and standing outside the three approved locations of Walmart, J.C. Penney, and Belk.