YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign kicks off Thursday but this year, the pandemic has impacted its efforts.
It’s that time of year again — when we expect the familiar red kettles to be out almost everywhere we go, along with the ringing that accompanies them. But will we hear the bells this year?
“We hope so,” said Sherry Moore, the organization’s area coordinator.
It’s been a Salvation Army tradition for well over a century, but this year’s campaign will be a little different.
“We sort of had this theme this year, which is ‘Rescue Christmas and Keep the Bells Ringing.'”
The bells will be ringing but they might not be as loud.
Normally, there are kettles set up at 35 different locations across the Valley. This year, it’ll be half that. And because of COVID-19, you won’t see more than one volunteer ringing at a time.
“Because of CDC guidelines this year, that has to change,” Moore said.
The Red Kettle Campaign is the Salvation Army’s biggest fundraising event of the year, making up 35% of its budget.
This year, the need is greater than ever before.
“We have seen a tremendous increase in individuals who are calling — not only for food and utilities, but they’re worried about Christmas,” Moore said.
The Salvation Army helps around 700 families last year, but expects to exceed that this year, already adding 300 new families.
Last year, the organization helped 1,200 kids with its annual toy shop. This year, it’s at 1,500.
“COVID has certainly impacted our community, families, individuals,” Moore said.
Because of that, the Salvation Army is worried that might affect the money it raises.
“We don’t know if people will be as willing to give.”
For those who might not be comfortable because of the virus, the Salvation Army is adding a cashless option again this year. You can donate through Apple Pay and Google Pay just by scanning your phone.
You can also make a donation online or by texting MCASOH to 41444.
If you’re not comfortable with that, you can always mail your donation to 1501 Glenwood Ave., Youngstown, OH 44511.
“Whether you’re on the giving end or receiving end, every little bit helps,” Moore said.
WKBN 27 First News is working with the Salvation Army of Mahoning County this holiday season as part of our Caring For Our Community Campaign.
WKBN donated $2,400 to the Salvation Army. That money is going to help local families this Christmas. Hundreds more still need help.
The Salvation Army hopes other Valley businesses follow suit.
“We’re asking more companies to get involved and asking those that are involved if they can contribute just a little more because of the challenges this year with the pandemic, and the challenge that puts on the Red Kettle Campaign,” said WKBN’s general manager Dave Coy, who is also on the Salvation Army’s advisory board.
Corporate sponsors can donate anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000.
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