RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)- Salvation Army bell ringers are a holiday staple but some fear Red Kettle Campaign donations will take a big hit during the coronavirus pandemic.
The anticipated 50 percent drop off in donations comes as Salvation Army is seeing a 155 percent increase in requests for assistance nationwide, according to Divisional Communications Director Karen Yoho.
Central Virginia Commander Captain Jason Burns said part of the problem is that fewer people are willing to volunteer during the pandemic. The 20 percent decline in donations he’s expecting in his region will have a direct impact on services they can provide.
“Every kettle represents a service that we can do. So for every hour that we have a ringer out there, that’s five families that we can feed,” Burns said. “For every day we put someone out there, that’s five days that we can have someone in a shelter.”
Black Friday is normally a big day for Red Kettle contributions but, this year, foot traffic is falling as more people are shopping online.
Meanwhile, Burns said some retailers are rolling back participation due to safety precautions.
“We have some of our regular locations that we have rung at for years that have chosen not to allow us to ring or have limited the hours or the days that we can ring. We understand that. We’re completely supportive of those decisions,” Burns said.
With less people carrying cash–compounded by a national coin shortage–the Salvation Army is getting creative. Burns said they’re bringing back barcodes for the second year, enabling touchless payment at retail locations.
“And all of those monies go directly back to their local organization,” Burns said.