Salvation Army starts 'Rescue Christmas' fundraising campaign early amid coronavirus pandemic

Salvation Army bell ringer volunteers William Schmidt (L), who is on his 20th year volunteering, and his grandson Bubba Wellens (R) ring their bells watching a donation into a kettle outside a Giant grocery store November 24, 2012, in Clifton, Virgin

For the first time in 130 years, the Salvation Army is launching its "Rescue Christmas" fundraising campaign early this year as requests for its services have hit an all-time high due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Salvation Army could serve up to 155% more people with Christmas assistance in 2020, from putting food on the table and paying bills to providing shelter and helping to place gifts under the tree, the organization said.

While it raised $126 million through about 30,000 red kettles last year, the Salvation Army expects to only bring in half that amount this year due to consumers carrying less cash and coins and the pandemic shutting down retail stores and causing a decline in foot traffic.

Since March, the Salvation Army has provided more than 100 million meals, 1.5 million nights of safe shelter, and emotional and spiritual support to more than 800,000 people.

The Rescue Christmas campaign, which will take place virtually this year, is offering a variety of digital payment options, including via Apple Pay or Google Pay at any red kettle across the country, using Amazon Alexa, or by texting “KETTLE” to 91999.

“Our ability to raise vital funds to serve those in need this Christmas and beyond is at risk,” Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder, National Commander of The Salvation Army, said in a statement. “We need everyone who has the capacity to come alongside us and ensure that the holiday season is bright for millions. We’re asking you to help rescue Christmas with us by providing support in any way you can. Our hope is to offset these challenges to meet the increasing demand for services across our nation.”

According to the organization's website, 82 cents of each dollar donated goes directly to helping those in need.

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