NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It’s not really the holiday shopping season until you hear the bells and see the red kettles outside stores.
But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Salvation Army is making some changes to collect donations and get volunteers to help their campaign in 2020.
“We’ve seen a lot of challenges with how we serve people, but what we do know is there’s a lot of people in need. A lot of people are hurting,” said Maj. Donald Dohmann, who is the area commander for the Salvation Army Hampton Roads.
Dohmann says the organization helps people every day all year and they’re expected to serve more than 6,500 children through their Christmas assistance program alone this holiday season.
“During the pandemic, we’ve seen our need increase and we’re doing our very best to make sure we can help those families that are struggling each and every day,” he said.
And that’s through their Red Kettle Campaign.
If you visit stores, you’ll still spot the bell ringers and their kettles, but Dohmann says they’re at 17 fewer locations this year, due to some businesses opting out of being locations.
He also says the coin shortage and need for volunteers are other issues they’re running into. So, they’ve made changes to how people can donate.
“They can make a donation directly from our Red Kettle Campaign from the comforts of their home. They can do that from a mobile device, it’s mobile-friendly, or from their computer,” he said.
Dohmann says their kettle stands also have QR codes that donors can scan if they don’t want to give cash or coins and can use Google or Apple Pay to donate money.
Those who were looking to volunteer this year can also sign up to help. Dohmann says they have between 50 to 60 kettles out each day but if you’re reluctant to be out and about, you can still volunteer virtually.
“They sign up to be a bell ringer. Once they create their kettle, they invite their friends through email, Google, or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. They invite their friends to donate to the Red Kettle so they can still be a virtual bell ringer from the comfort of their homes and it’s really to invite their friends and family to donate to that kettle,” he said.
The Salvation Army has a goal of reaching $565,000 and believes they can do that with the community’s support.
To donate or set up your own virtual kettle, click here.
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