© Getty ImagesSalvation Army Bell Ringers collect funds for charity.
Times are tough in metro Detroit, so much so that red kettles are as silent as mice, with very little cheerful clanging of change.

The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit is still $5 million away from reaching its $8.2 million 2011 Red Kettle Campaign fundraising goal, and 9 percent below its fundraising pace from last year. Scrambling, the charity issued an "urgent plea" for help Wednesday.

"With 16.8 percent of Michigan residents living in poverty - the highest percentage in four decades - we simply can't afford to miss making our goal of $8.2 million this year," said Major Mark Anderson, general secretary and metro Detroit area commander for The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit.

"We are counting on the generosity of metro Detroiter's to help us keep doing the most good this holiday season and throughout the entire year."

The financial goal of this year's kettle campaign is slightly higher than the funds collected last year, said Major Curtiss Hartley, divisional youth officer of the Salvation Army in Metro Detroit. Why raise the goal when money is so hard to come by?

"It's because the need is greater, we just really need to appeal to the generosity of Detroit folks," Hartley said. "There are so many things going on, food and shelter are the basics, the numbers are through the roof in those areas."

According to Governor Rick Snyder, The Salvation Army is the largest private provider of social services in the state.

This past year, The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit was involved in providing 3,194,802 million meals and 687,203 nights of shelter for the homeless. The Salvation Army uses $.85 of every dollar raised to provide direct services to people in need each and every day of the year.

Want to help? There are several easy ways to give.

Bell ringers at the charity's famous Red Kettles will collect donations at storefronts through Dec. 24. Donations are also accepted via phone at 877-SAL-MICH and online at through the Red Kettle Campaign's last day, set for Jan. 31, 2012.

Donors may also text 'GOODMICH' to 80888*. Donations can also be made via check to The Salvation Army at 16130 Northland Drive, Southfield, MI 48075.