HELENA — For the first time, the Salvation Army is taking its holiday red kettle drive virtual.
People bouncing in and out of stores will still see salvation army bell ringers donning the vest, clanging the bell, and accepting donations with their red kettle, but in a limited fashion.
The Salvation Army chose to take the campaign mostly online due to the lack of foot traffic caused by the pandemic.
“Some stores only allow 50 percent. In some states of our in our division, they're down to even lower percentages of foot traffic. That means less people coming by your kettle. That was one reason that drove the virtual kettle needing that to supplement that income,” said Maj. Phil Smith, Helena corps officer for the Salvation Army.
According to Smith, the Helena Salvation Army has raised approximately $15,000 as of Dec. 8, a $10,000 drop compared to last year.
Those who still want to donate in person to the Salvation Army kettles can still do so with either cash or a credit/debit card through a touchless payment system each bell ringer is equipped with, but Smith noted they haven’t seen a ton of success with that option because of the Red Kettle’s symbolism with the Salvation Army.
“The kettles are so traditional. They've been there. We've been doing this for so long. That's such a new thing, that people even though they see it, and they recognize it, they might even connect the dots as to that’s ‘Oh, that's a way for me to donate,’ They don’t necessarily take the time to do that. Even though it may be thought of as a time saver.”
Donations to the Salvation Army Red Kettles can be made in person or online by clicking here and all of the funds raised through Christmas Eve will go back into the community.
“It's all local funds, and that's the whole point of each community raising their own money,” said uh, for some small communities like Helena, you know, it's a staple, it's a big part of your budget.”
Virtual donations to the Helena Salvation Army can be made by going to helenaredkettle.org, or by clicking here.