INDIANAPOLIS – The Salvation Army is starting its annual holiday fundraising campaign about two months early in an effort to cope with the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Salvation Army’s “Rescue Christmas” campaign is up and running on the organization’s website. Local organizers hope Hoosiers will make use of online options for donating to those in need.
“The credit cards are maxed out, there are no more savings, and things are still really uncertain going into the rest of the year,” said Salvation Army Indiana spokesperson, Samantha Hyde.
The early start to the holiday funding drive comes as the Salvation Army is seeing unprecedented need from Hoosiers affected by the pandemic. While food insecurity has been a top need throughout the last several months, Hyde says looming debt will be the next major need.
“Last year we had, across the state of Indiana, only about 2,700 who came to us for rent and utility assistance,” she said. “Just over the last few months, we’ve had 27,000.”
“At the same time, due to the closing of retail stores, consumers carrying less cash and coins, and the decline in foot traffic, The Salvation Army could see up to a 50 percent decrease in funds raised nationally through the red kettles, which would limit their capability to provide services for the most vulnerable,” the organization said in a statement.
“It could be as much as 155 percent increase of people asking for assistance of some kind during the Christmas season,” said Indiana Divisional Commander, Major Marc Johnson. “With the increase in need, and a potential decrease up to 50 percent in our kettle collections, that is concerning,”
In addition to those challenges, Johnson says the organization is having a harder time this year getting permission from retailers to set up red kettle bell ringers at store fronts.
“We are nationally in the process of getting those permissions, as we are every year,” Johnson said. “But this year, there’s the concern of safety and we are very concerned about safety, taking that very seriously.”
People who don’t carry cash can still donate at red kettle locations by using a smart phone. The mobile donation sites are now have the ability to accept Apple Pay and Google Pay. Hoosiers can also Ask Amazon Alexa to donate by saying, “Alexa, donate to The Salvation Army,” then specifying the amount. Donations can also be sent by texting “HOOSIER” to 24365.
In a normal year, Red Kettle bell ringers would start setting up at storefronts after Black Friday. This year, that could start as soon as early November. However, those discussions are still underway, Hyde said.