ROCHESTER, Minn. - The Salvation Army is on a mission to rescue Christmas this year by starting its Red Kettle Campaign earlier than normal. But it's going to take the support from everyone to make that happen as they're serving a lot more people this year because of the pandemic.
The Salvation Army of Rochester went way past their goal last year and raised $1.2 million. This year, they budgeted for a $300,000 decrease in donations, making it a goal of raising $960,000. Major Bob Mueller explained nationwide, they're projecting to serve 150% more people this Christmas season because of the pandemic. There are two main reasons for that. He said they're bracing themselves for a lower number this year, but he's hoping people have a little change up their sleeve. "We know people aren't using coin as much because they don't want to be cross contaminated, but what we're hoping is that people have bowls or buckets full of coin sitting at home that they're gonna come and dump into our kettles this year," explained Mayor Mueller. "But we don't know. We just don't know. So again, we want to get our message out as early as possible to all of our generous donors in Rochester. Please, please think about the Salvation Army and start thinking about them now."
The second reasoning is some of the stores where the kettle bells are normally camped out at have closed their doors, so Major Mueller said he's not sure exactly how many kettles they'll set out this year. One thing that remains the same though is their passion for helping out families during the giving season. "This is the first time in 130 years of bell ringing that the Salvation Army launched its campaign this early in the season," explained Major Mueller. "We're continuing to rescue Christmas for others as we always have been with the help of volunteers and donors. But this year is different. We have a pandemic, we're going to be doing our biggest Christmas fundraiser campaign in the midst of a pandemic."
Something the Salvation Army started last year was a tap pay option through Apple Pay or Google Pay. You can expect to see the red kettles in Rochester at the beginning of November. Until then, Major Mueller encourages you to donate online if you're interested in helping out now.