Pandemic at Christmas: Salvation Army responds to heightened need, concerns over decreased donations
Posted November 20, 2020 5:53 p.m. EST
Updated November 20, 2020 8:01 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Just as businesses have been impacted by COVID-19's strain on the economy, many non-profits are also struggling. This holiday season, more families than usual have signed up for Salvation Army's help – but the organization's Christmas programs are facing several struggles due to the pandemic.
Bell-ringers with red kettles collecting donations for the Salvation Army of Wake County are a common sight during the holidays. However, the pandemic has decreased the number of bell-ringers shoppers see this year, which could mean fewer donations.
"We could see up to a 50% decrease in red kettle funds this year due to several factors, including consumers carrying less cash and fewer coins," said Major Al Newsome of the Salvation Army.
Plus, more people shopping online means less foot traffic, and higher levels of unemployment mean fewer people have extra money to donate.
"We do know the financial impact in this community has been difficult for everyone," said Newsome.
While the economic strain has decreased donations, it's also increased the need for Salvation Army's services.
During a typical holiday season, the Salvation Army reaches around 700 to 1,000 families, but this year those numbers are far more.
"We have taken on several hundred families more, because there’s so many people in need," said Newsome.
WRAL’s Coats for the Children program, which kicks off Saturday, is one way that the community can bring warmth to thousands of children who are in need in the current economic climate.
"It has been a struggle," said Newsome. "But we have to say we are blessed because this is a very giving community, and they have helped us keep the lights on, as well as help serve the community."
The Salvation Army's annual Angel Tree project has placed more of an emphasis on online 'angel adoptions' this year. Angel adoption began online in October, after the Christmas Cheer Program registration, when over 7,700 children were registered.
Currently, Angel Trees are at Crabtree Valley Mall, Triangle Town Center and theWalmart locations in Knightdale, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs and Raleigh.
Salvation Army also needs volunteers to help organize donations in the Christmas Center.