The bells will be ringing a bit earlier than normal this year.
The Salvation Army has started its red kettle fundraising efforts early “in order to rescue Christmas.” The organization said its bell-ringing volunteers, who usually begin collecting donations closer to Thanksgiving, began Monday, according to USA Today.
Like many nonprofits, the organization has been hit hard amid the coronavirus pandemic, seeing more requests than ever for help.
“We’re asking you to help rescue Christmas with us by providing support in any way you can,” Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder, The Salvation Army’s national commander, said in a statement. “Our hope is to offset these challenges to meet the increasing demand for services across our nation.”
The organization estimates it could see 50% fewer funds coming from the red kettles, while simultaneously serving 155% more people than it did in 2019. Contributing factors include people carrying less cash, more online shopping instead of store visits, unemployment rates and recent store closures.
“Our ability to raise vital funds to serve those in need this Christmas and beyond is at risk,” Hodder said. “We need everyone who has the capacity to come alongside us and ensure that the holiday season is bright for millions.”
Last year, the organization raised $126 million through 30,000 red kettles.
Since March, the Salvation Army has provided more than 100 million meals, 1.5 million nights of shelter, and emotional and spiritual support to over 800,000 people.
Though the red kettles started up Monday, not all of them will immediately be out across the U.S. since the decision to start early is a local one, USA Today reported.
While out, bell ringers will follow COVID-19 safety protocols.
Aside from using the kettles (both physically and digitally through Apple Pay or Google Pay), donations can be made online, by asking Alexa to donate or by texting KETTLE to 91999.
Other options include donations through Love’s Army and the Angel Tree program. People can also donate physical gifts in bulk.