Needs Rising, But Not Donations, For Salvation Army

PHILADELPHIA PA – It’s a time of paradox for Salvation Army operations across eastern Pennsylvania, including the corps offices in Pottstown, Boyertown, and Reading. More people need services the organization traditionally provides during the holidays, yet the public donations on which it depends are declining substantially.

The cause of both: the coronavirus pandemic, says Lt. Colonel Larry Ashcraft, divisional commander of The Salvation Army Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Division.

Ashcraft on Thursday (Dec. 3, 2020) said the Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign, with its bell ringers and bright red collection tripods, “has taken on an even greater meaning in 2020.” The pandemic has forced wage earners out of jobs, and more of them can’t make ends meet. But COVID-19 is also keeping holiday shoppers online and out of stores, creating a decrease in kettle foot traffic and donations.

“This is what we were concerned about,” Ashcraft explained. “We feared the pandemic would have a direct effect on kettle income, which is why we started the fund-raising season early for the first time in 130 years. To date, though, our division has seen a 46-percent decrease in in-person kettle donations. We are at a critical moment where the success of our efforts will directly impact our ability to meet increased needs.”

And the Army has placed an emphasis on donors’ safety too. It’s made giving at kettles safe by ensuring all bell ringers received special CDC training. It requires them to wear masks and gloves, to practice social distancing, and to sanitize kettles after every donation. Kettles now also offer contact-less giving using Apple Pay and Google Pay with a cell phone and QR code.

“We need the community’s help now, more than ever,” Ashcraft admitted. “We don’t want to turn anyone away because we don’t have the resources to help, and we don’t want to cut any programs that give our clients new hope, new opportunities, and new life.” So “no amount of change is too little to bring about change.”

Photo from the Salvation Army