(WIVB) — For more than a century, The Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles have helped families in need year-round. But the holiday season fundraising drive is facing new challenges this year.
The need for The Salvation Army’s services has jumped 155 percent nationwide. That’s a number largely driven by the pandemic.
Two of the challenges the organization is facing this year are fewer locations where bells are ringing and the coin shortage.
Just those two things have Salvation Army officials estimating donations to come in $60 million short of last year’s totals.
Salvation Army Commissioner Kenneth Hodder says “The message that I would want everyone in need to know this year is that they are loved and they are cared for.”
Because of the shortage of bell ringer volunteers locally, cardboard cut-outs are next to some kettles.
On Friday at Noon, Salvation Army Commander Major Steve Carroll began standing by one of the red kettles in front of the Sheraton Hotel on Third St. in Niagara Falls. He’ll be there for the following 24 hours.
“This has been a hard year for everyone,” Carroll said. “We’ve served over 150,000 meals worth of food, six times the food served last year. We’ve doubled rental assistance, and Christmas assistance applications have already exceeded previous years.”
Carroll’s Red Kettle Marathon is being streamed on Facebook.
If you want to donate to The Salvation Army from your phone, you can do so with “Kettle Pay.” Click/tap that link to see how it works.