With only a few more days to raise money before Christmas, The Salvation Army Santa Barbara Corps reports that its 16 iconic red kettles at storefronts throughout the community are trailing by more than $5,000 from where they stood last year at this time.

Altogether, the campaign is $23,000 short of its goal.

“The majority of kettle income is typically raised between Dec. 16 and 24, so we’re still very hopeful that we’ll reach our goal of $45,000, but we need to raise $2,300 a day,” said Major Philip Smith, Salvation Army Corps officer in Santa Barbara. “We’re so grateful to the community for giving what they can; all of that spare change adds up!”

Forty to 50 percent of all public support for The Salvation Army is raised during the critical holiday season, October through December. These funds are used to change lives in Santa Barbara County through myriad services, including after-school programs, summer day camp, grocery assistance and street ministries, just to name a few.

In addition to helping fund these year-round programs, kettle donations help The Salvation Army serve thousands of Santa Barbara County families with Christmas meals and toys. This year, the corps aims to provide 2,000 toys to children in need Christmas.

The public can give in a number of ways, including contributing to any red kettle location throughout Santa Barbara County; mailing checks to 4849 Hollister Ave., Santa Barbara, CA 93111; or making an online donation, by clicking here. All funds stay local with 82 percent of all donated money going directly into programs.

This year marks the 122nd annual Red Kettle Campaign, which was started as a fundraiser by Salvation Army Capt. Joseph Mcfee in San Francisco in 1891. Since that time, the Red Kettle Campaign has grown into one of the most recognizable and important charitable campaigns in the United States.

As part of the campaign, more than 25,000 Salvation Army workers and volunteers spread throughout the country to ring bells daily and solicit spare change donations to the iconic red kettles from holiday shoppers. In 2011, the national campaign collected $147.6 million, a new record supported by the public’s nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars (and the occasional diamond ring or gold tooth) — all collected and used to serve 30 million people in communities where the money was raised.

— Dawn Wright is the director of marketing and communications for The Salvation Army Southern California Division.