Salvation Army reports decline in donationsThe Salvation Army’s bell ringers in Mitchell are finding their red kettles drawing fewer donations this holiday season. Major Jones optimistic gifts will increase as Christmas approaches.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
The Salvation Army’s bell ringers in Mitchell are finding their red kettles drawing fewer donations this holiday season.
Major Linda Jones, head of Mitchell’s Salvation Army, said kettle donations in Mitchell are down about $6,000 when compared to last year at this time.
Jones and her branch hope to raise $112,500 through mail and kettle donations by the end of the year.
Attributing the decline in donations to the poor economy, Jones was optimistic things would pick up soon.
“I appreciate that people are giving, and know they’ve been very generous with putting their money in the kettle,” she said. “All of our sites here are covered by volunteers as well, which isn’t true at all Salvation Army sites.”
The need for the Salvation Army in Mitchell hasn’t declined, and is actually on the rise.
She said the number of people the branch helps — now serving as many as 1,000 people just in Mitchell — has tripled in the past few years.
The donations collected during the holiday season, through mail and in kettles, make up about one-fourth of the Mitchell Salvation Army’s budget.
A change at the national level could mean Mitchell’s bell ringers could be accepting more than cash and coins in the future.
The Salvation Army announced in November bell ringers would be accepting credit card donations through smartphones equipped with credit card readers at donation sites in select cities like San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and New York.
In a news release, Major George Hood, national community relations and development secretary for The Salvation Army said he hoped this would make transactions easier for all involved.
“This year, we plan to make donating to The Salvation Army as easy as possible for our donors,” he said.
Jones said it could be a while before Mitchell residents will be able to use credit cards to donate at kettles around town.
“When the cost efficiency gets to the point where we can afford to do that, then I’d like to see that,” Jones said. “We only have seven sites, so we can’t afford it.”
While collecting donations at Shopko Saturday afternoon, Salvation Army bell ringer Mary Lou Balcom was surprised when told that in some major cities, bell ringers have been equipped to accept credit cards in addition to cash donations.
“I’m not into technology, but I suppose it is coming,” Balcom said. “If it gets them more money, that’s the main thing.”
Jones understood why the Salvation Army would begin accepting other forms of payment.
“I know myself, I carry less cash,” she said. “Because the current generation is into technology and computers, I see more and more of that happening. They will use online or credit cards to give instead of using cash.”
The Salvation Army also takes donations through its Online Red Kettle program, which has raised more than $400,000 nationally so far this year and has a goal set at $3,000,000.
While Jones could not say when Mitchell residents could expect to start handing bell ringers a credit card instead of dropping cash or coins into a red kettle, she was grateful for the amount of local support.
“The community is really good about getting behind us and supporting us,” she said.
Jones said she has had nearly 200 people volunteer to be bell ringers in years past.
“Sometimes I’ll find people that haven’t even signed up out ringing just because they had a few minutes to go out and ring,” she said.