CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Salvation Army’s largest fundraising event, the Red Kettle Campaign, is now underway. But this year, the non-profit got creative with the red kettles, due to a lower number of volunteers offering to be bell ringers, in the middle of this pandemic.
You’ll still still some bell ringers across WNY from now until Christmas Eve, but in some cases, you’ll see cardboard cutouts instead. The cutouts will be scattered around WNY and will feature some familiar faces.
“We’ve got Billy Buffalo, Drew Cerza the Wing King, Dion Dawkins from the Bills, (and) Ty Nsekhe from the Bills,” Laurie Krajna said, the development director for the Salvation Army of WNY. “We’ve got Jim Kelly, Rob Lederman and Bull from 97 Rock… and Kelsey! Thanks for being one of our celebrities.”
You can find Kelsey Anderson’s cardboard cutout on the second floor of the Walden Galleria, next to Macy’s.
On some of the cutouts, a voice activation will grab the attention of people passing by. And all of them have touchless paying. You can give a donation via Google Pay or use a QR Code, which will direct you to the Salvation Army’s website.
“You’ll only see the kettle dangling from the stand when there’s a volunteer,” Krajna said. “We don’t want to leave money in the community for any type of theft.”
The Red Kettle Campaign is the biggest fundraiser for the Salvation Army. In Buffalo, the non-profit generally brings in $500,000 through the kettles to support their homeless shelter, food pantry, workforce development and more.
And the need in the middle of this pandemic is bigger than ever.
“The need is huge,” Krajna said. “People are out of jobs, our workforce development program is swamped (and) our food pantries are handing out more meals… five, six times more than normal. Our homeless family shelter is still at capacity, so we need finances to help support the mission. We need toy donations. We need food donations. Anything you can do.”