When some charitable organizations did not make their goals around the holidays, Chillicothe's Salvation Army kettle drive set a record-high for the second year in row.

"I just think it reflects the generosity of the community," said Ed Dutton, volunteer kettle coordinator and Salvation Army extension unit director.

Last year, the kettle campaign hit the $20,000 mark for the first time. Part of the reason for that was the matching funds that Ed Dutton and St. Edward Catholic Church member Joe Langenstein discussed beginning after funds ran out and no more residents could be helped until a new fiscal year began.

This year, the total increased to $21,200, but Dutton credits the Chillicothe Fire Department's zeal to be the top group that pushed the total to another record.

A good-natured challenge is issued to groups, churches, businesses and more to be at the top in donations, with the winner announced at a victory celebration in January.

This year the group met for lunch Jan. 21 at Happy Thought Coffee for lunch to hear the totals.

For years the Chillicothe Fire Department staffed the community kettle and brought in the most amount of money until St. Edward members upped the ante and began ringing more.

This year, however, the firemen raised about $1,000 more than the Catholics, and walked away with the honor of top group with a total of $4,861.51. St. Edward was named the top church for its efforts with $3,840.60 during the ringing, which is just slightly less than the church brought in last year.

The firemen normally man the kettle the Saturday before Christmas and on Christmas Eve, which was on Tuesday this year.

They added ringing on the previous Monday to get to the top. The firemen lost the top group status to St. Edward for the 2008 campaign.

This year's matching funds all have not come in yet, but Dutton is expecting at least $6,000.

Last year about $7,200 was raised through businesses, groups and individuals matching the ringing totals of days or parts of days.

In the IVC Challenge, which pits Illinois Valley Central High School students in groups against each other, the French National Honor Society rang to the tune of $875.01.

South Side Bank's Darlene Kumpf kept her spot as the top celebrity bell ringer, generating $224.94 in her hour of bell ringing on the first day of the campaign.

Beck's Oil was the top place for residents to donate at a counter kettle with $199.90.

Dutton also noted that South Side Bank employees help count and deposit the funds and Kroger provides the only location in town for the kettle.

Funds are used throughout the year for those needing emergency assistance, usually for rent or utilities.

"If you know of anyone who needs assistance, give us a call at (Assembly of God Church)," Dutton said.

Other notable totals include: Chillicothe Assembly of God Church — $1,032.53; Roger Reliford — $828.71; Chillicothe Bible Church — $613.91; First United Methodist Church — $593.71; Chillicothe Christian Church — $592.03; Chillicothe Optimist Club — $373.93; VFW 4999 Ladies Auxiliary — $261.84; and First National Bank — $235.11.