ROSEVILLE, Minnesota — For the first time in 130 years, The Salvation Army is kicking off its annual holiday fundraising campaign early in order to "help rescue Christmas for those in need" amid COVID-19.
The nation's largest social services organization is seeing a drastic increase in requests for services. At the same time, The Salvation Army expects a decrease in funds raised through its red kettles.
"We are worried this year because of COVID and how that's going to affect that kind of fundraising. So that's part of the reason we're rolling things out a little earlier this year," said Major Scott Shelbourn, divisional secretary for the Northern Division which serves Minnesota and North Dakota.
The organization could serve up to 155% more people in 2020 with Christmas assistance, including providing food, providing shelter, paying bills and helping place gifts under the tree.
The Northern Division served nearly 325,000 people last year.
"Right now we're tracking by the end of the year to hit 825,000 requests for services. Those services could be lodging ... help with rent or mortgage payment or a food box," Major Shelbourn said. "A lot of that impact is because of COVID. So the increase in requests for services is because a lot of people have had decreased hours or they've lost their jobs entirely. So we're helping them meet their weekly needs for their families."
The Salvation Army said it could also see up to a 50% decrease in funds raised through its red kettles. They expect a decline in foot traffic this holiday season.
"Some stores aren't open as long as they've been or they're not allowing our kettle stands to be out in front of the store this year because of COVID. So we're going to see a big change in how our kettles run and that's a very big concern for us," Major Shelbourn said. "About a third of the money we operate on throughout the year comes directly through the red kettle."
The Salvation Army will have protocols set up to handle and count the donated money including quarantining the cash for a few days. Gloves and masks/shields will be used and COVID sanitation protocols will be used.
The Salvation Army has included a list of ways you can help those in need in Minnesota and North Dakota:
- Donate at SalvationArmyNorth.org.
- Ask Amazon Alexa to donate by saying, "Alexa, donate to The Salvation Army," then specify the amount.
- Give any amount by texting "KETTLES" to 91999.
- Make a cash donation at red kettles starting November 13.
- Make a contactless donation with Apple Pay, Google Pay or QR code at any red kettle starting November 13.
- Donate needed coats for their annual "Coats For Kids" drive now through October 7; visit GiveCoats.org for information.
- Sign up to be a volunteer bell ringer at SalvationArmyNorth.org/kettle. The Salvation Army has adopted nationally mandated safety protocols.
If you need services or know someone who does, click here.