Salvation Army prepares for virtual Kettle Campaign this holiday

Salvation Army prepares for virtual Kettle Campaign this holiday

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The pandemic could have a major impact on a holiday tradition.

The annual Salvation Army Kettle Campaign ‘Rescue Christmas’ may be significantly changed if the big corporate supporters decide it’s not safe enough to have in-person bell ringing. But, Salvation Army officials see it as a new opportunity, rather than a big problem.

“It’s all being decided in corporate offices,” said Salvation Army Area Commander Maj. Bradley Caldwell. “We know that we have some locations that will clear us to have live bell ringers. But we also do not know regarding some locations - either if they will allow us to have live ringers, and if they do, what restrictions will be on how they are set up, how they are able to operate.”

There are normally 45 locations, and the goal for this year’s campaign is about $400,000. Most of that money is raised at Walmart locations, but Caldwell isn’t casting blame.

“They’re on our side,” said Caldwell. “Nobody that I know of is looking to get out of having the bell ringer. Because it is a big part of the Christmas season, and they also do want to participate in helping the needy. It’s just that they have to be careful and we understand and respect that.”

There are also other plans in place to help make up for limitation of physical sites, such as mini-kettles for point of sales contact, and sponsorships.

It also could mean big changes for volunteers.

“So many of the groups like to be out greeting people,” said Caldwell. “That’s a big part of the appeal of ringing the bell for them.”

So, Caldwell is hoping creative virtual campaigns can help.

“It’s meant to be interactive, even in the virtual world.” said Caldwell. “So, there’s still that entertainment element, that inspirational element and a why that they can sort of touch base with the public in a visible way that shows they care for the needy, they support The Salvation Army and they invite others to join them.”

In-person bell ringing begins two weeks before Thanksgiving, and virtual campaigning will start earlier to give volunteers time to meet their goals.

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