Despite the pandemic, the Salvation Army is staying busy this holiday season.
The organization has been delivering toys to kids on the Angel Tree, and its bell ringers have been standing outside of stores collecting donations.
Army leaders say they have had to make a lot of changes because of the pandemic, especially with Angel Tree distribution.
“It’s a drive-thru style which is different from years past. We can’t have people in the building touching gifts,” explained corps officer Vinal Lee. “We have less volunteers.”
This year, every single child on the Angel Tree was adopted.
The Salvation Army’s other big project is the annual Red Kettle campaign. Organizers had to make adjustments to keep keep bell ringers and donors safe.
“Bell ringers are wearing face coverings. In some locations, they’re also wearing gloves,” said Lee. They’re making sure they’re social distancing from the site so if they see a donor come, they step back so we can create some safe space between them.”
Bells, aprons and red kettles are sanitized daily and sometimes between each donation.
This year, there is the same number of red kettle sites but just not as many bell ringers.
Lee said, “Most of our volunteers are in a high risk category, so we’ve lost a number of volunteers so we’ve had to do a lot of recruiting this year.”
Without the Red Kettle campaign, the Salvation Army would not be able to do all their other programs throughout the year—from summer day camps to senior adult ministry.
“To see the smile in a parent’s eyes, to hear a ‘thank you,’ to have that moment, to interacting with them and sharing with them why we do what we do — makes all of it worth it,” said Lee.
Overall, fundraising is down, but the Salvation Army is getting some extra help.
An anonymous donor is doing up to a $100,000 match from Saturday through Christmas Eve.
Any donations made during that time will be doubled.