The Bells Are Still Clanging, But Donations to Salvation Army’s Red Kettles Have Gotten Quieter

(The Salvation Army Chicago Metropolitan Division / Facebook)(The Salvation Army Chicago Metropolitan Division / Facebook)

The bells will be clanging, but the coins won’t necessarily be clinking as the Salvation Army kicks off its annual Red Kettle campaign Monday.

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The traditional holiday fundraiser rolls out at Jewel-Osco and Hobby Lobby stores this week, with locations at Walmart, Walgreens and Macy’s to follow later in the month.

While the sound of bell ringers has become synonymous with the season, it’s accompanied less frequently by the plink of loose change dropping into the organization’s collection buckets. Not because people are less charitable but because they’re often not carrying cash.

Cashless and contactless payment methods were already on the rise before COVID-19, and the Salvation Army has adjusted to the trend. Signs on the kettles have been equipped with Apple Pay and Google Pay technology since 2019. This year, Venmo and PayPal transactions have been added to the mix, the organization announced Monday.

Funds raised during the Christmas season account for 70% of Salvation Army’s annual donations, which support the organization’s emergency assistance programs, food pantries, after-school programs and shelter for the homeless, according to Salvation Army. 

With hundreds of thousands of Illinois households behind on rent, Salvation Army has recently experienced an increase in requests for financial assistance.

“Your donation to the Red Kettles could mean the difference between a family being able to cover the rent, keep the lights and heat on, and stay in their homes,” said Lt. Col. Lonneal Richardson, divisional commander for the Salvation Army Metropolitan Division.

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 |  [email protected]


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