A man puts money into a Salvation Army kettle at the Bangor Mall Monday. The Salvation Army says that this holiday season the donations are down. Credit: Gabor Degre

The Bangor Area Salvation Army needs kettle fund donations after the annual fundraising effort fell $10,000 short of the local target.

The fundraising efforts started early last month, but the unusually cold November slowed donations down. This is the first time in the past four years that the fundraiser could not meet its target, according to The Salvation Army.

“The weather has just made this a very, very difficult fundraising season,” Corps Officer Rebecca Kirk said.

Salvation Army volunteers and staff rely on shoppers to donate as they enter and exit stores where they are shopping, but low temperatures and intermittent storms have contributed to low foot traffic at most of the collection sites this year.

Collection sites in Augusta, Brunswick and Rockland also were struggling to meet their targets, according to a Salvation Army news release. The total statewide shortage is $90,000, Kirk said.

The increase in online shopping and decrease in available storefronts have presented an ongoing challenge to the fundraising effort that relies primarily on in-person cash donations.

The kettle fund almost fell short last year, but due to a large donation received late in the season at the Bangor Police Department’s holiday toy drive, The Salvation Army was able to raise enough money.

“We anticipated that this year is going to be much harder for us,” Kirk said. “The expenses don’t change even if there’s not enough stores for the kettles to stand at.”

The Salvation Army uses 82 cents of every dollar collected through the kettle fund to help local families.

“When people give to us, they can feel confident that they are giving to a program to directly help a neighbor,” Kirk said.

This year, part of the $142,000 raised in the Bangor area has been spent on grocery store gift cards for 350 families.

The Salvation Army is accepting donations online to the kettle fund until the end of the year. Bangor residents also can text “BANGOR” to 41444 or mail donations to P.O. Box 1101, Bangor, 04401.