The Salvation Army is launching its annual holiday fundraising campaign early for the first time in 130 years because of anticipated funding drops caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Salvation Army said it is expecting up to a 50% drop in fundraising from its Red Kettle Campaign, while seeing a 155% increase in demand of its services.
"The pandemic has brought about just incredible crises for families all across America. Many of the families we serve, some of them have lost their jobs, some of them have been impacted and have had COVID in their own families," said Dale Bannon, The Salvation Army's national community relations and development secretary. "And when you lose income and you're sick and you can't afford basic necessities for your family like food, rent, utilities, it puts you at a crisis that you've never experienced before."
The Salvation Army has provided more than 100 million meals, 1.5 million nights of safe shelter, and emotional and spiritual support to more than 800,000 people since March.
As retailers shutter because of the pandemic and as people move away from hard cash and toward e-commerce, the charity said it is having to get creative with its fundraising. It launched its "Help Rescue Christmas" campaign on Sunday with a video set to Christian artist Lauren Daigle's hit "Rescue," which has been dubbed the anthem for the campaign.
"We're anticipating just with the shortage of cash, there's also less retail stores than there were last year, we've got to do something and do it early to communicate to the American public. Help us meet the needs of people this Christmas," Bannon said. "Our Christmas assistance program provides food; we also provide toys for parents who are struggling between maybe paying the rent or keeping their lights on."
The charity said it is also worried about people being evicted and those who cannot drive but still need access to food.
The Salvation Army is urging donors to donate through the iconic red kettles or through digital donations through Apple Pay or Google Pay. Donors can also give money by texting "KETTLES" to 91999 or through Amazon's Alexa by saying, "Alexa, donate to The Salvation Army," then specifying the amount. Other ways to donate can be found on its website.