Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign enters final week, ends Dec. 24

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram

Only a few days remain for the Salvation Army’s 2020 Red Kettle Campaign.

It ends at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve.

Chelsea Barnes, a lieutenant with the Salvation Army, said the campaign is more important this year than in previous years, as has been an increased awareness of the organization and its programs.

More people have been using the Salvation Army’s services, such as utility assistance, food assistance and even the Christmas Toy program, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barnes said.

“Even with COVID, the amount of people that we have been serving overall has increased this year,” she said. “So the need is greater and therefore the need for resources and funding is even greater.”

The funds raised from the Red Kettle Campaign help pay for the Salvation Army’s youth programs, utility bills and help stock Salvation Army food pantries.

The overall Red Kettle goal this year is to raise $38,921, which is a decrease from last year, Barnes said.

“We knew that this year would be different with COVID, it had to be budgeted differently,” she said. “Even still, right now we're only at 54.18 percent of the goal. We still have a ways to go.”

Donations have been lower this year compared to last year, Barnes said. She believes part of it is less foot traffic to stores, which is where Red Kettles are stationed, due to the pandemic.

Additionally, there are fewer volunteers and paid bell ringers, Barnes said. Typically for paid bell ringers there are between 10 and 15; however, this year they haven’t had more than three at a time.

 “As far as volunteers, usually we had a decent amount of volunteer groups, especially through the different clubs at schools,” she said. “This year with school being remote, those clubs aren't meeting, so we don't have that extra volunteer support. It's been more just individuals that hear our plea for help and are responding to that call.”

Community member Jesse Montemayor is marking his fourth year as a bell ringer this winter.

“I don’t know why, but I just decided to start,” he said. “I kind of don’t like it on cold days, but I jut like doing it.”

While donations are down, people have been giving, Montemayor said.

On Dec. 17, Montemayor was stationed at Walmart and saw the busiest day he had seen so far.

“Closer to the 24th and 25th, it seems like they give a little bit more, but they do give,” he said.

Besides the traditional Red Kettles outside of businesses, there are other ways to donate this year, Barnes said.

People can donate in a socially distanced manner at kettles with their smartphones and Kettle Pay, or it can be done virtually, Barnes said.

“We've been trying to push that out via our Facebook page and Instagram and just word of mouth with other agencies and businesses,” she said. “That's a way that even with COVID, if people aren’t wanting to be out and about, they can still give online.”

Barnes hopes people donate this year any way they can.

“All of these donations allow us to help people 365 days a year, and even with all the challenges people faced in 2020, we know there will still be challenges in 2021,” she said. “We hope everyone will take a moment to make a donation as they finish up last-minute Christmas shopping to help bless other families with a happy holiday.”

To donate online, go to salarmy.us/GardenCity.

To donate in-person, Red Kettles are located at Dillons West, Dillons East, Walmart Neighborhood Market, Walgreens, JCPenny, Walmart Supercenter (at both doors), Sam’s Club and Hobby Lobby.

All of these locations will have bell ringers there from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

There is also a Red Kettle at Daylight Donuts, and bell ringers will be there from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

All locations except Daylight Donuts will be open until 6 p.m. Dec. 24.

Jesse Montemayor rings a bell outside of Walmart on Thursday as part of the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign, which runs through 6 p.m. on Dec. 24.