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Salvation Army making final push to fundraise for Red Kettle campaign as pandemic slows donations and volunteers

Published: Dec. 19, 2020 at 6:13 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 20, 2020 at 7:59 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The sights and sounds of bells ringing and red kettles is a familiar one during this time of the year, but this year has been unlike any other.

“It has been a challenge not only with the pandemic, but also with the storm that hit all of our neighbors in this area,” said Captain Shawn DeBaar with the Salvation Army.

DeBaar says both events have take a toll of their services.

“The Salvation Army this year has served over 20,000 more hot meals than we did last year in this point in December. We handed out more than 2,000 food boxes then we did last year,” said DeBaar.

However, he says the community has been a big support, and as their annual red kettle campaign comes to a close, they are making one final push for community support to keep providing these needed services.

“For the Salvation Army here in Cedar Rapids, we raise over half our annual operating budget between the month of November and the end of December,” DeBaar said.

They are currently at 82% of their fundraising goal of $711,000. About $200,000 comes from the red kettles alone. DeBaar says less foot traffic in stores, fewer volunteers and also having to limit how many people can bell ring one location have all contributed to the lag in fundraising.

“So it’s changed the dynamics,” he added.

However, there are still opportunities for people to sign up to bell ring. People can sign up for a shift at the Register to Ring website.

There’s also a virtual opportunity to help out.

“This year we’ve had to depend more than ever on our virtual red kettle technology,” DeBaar said.

They encourage individuals that may not be going to retail stores, or that are hosting a red kettle to go to the Salvation Army Cedar Rapids website, and donate to an online red kettle. He says it’s needed now more than ever as a new year approaches.

“Now we look to this next year where we expect the need to continue to be great for many months following the new year. So those funds are going to continue to help to feed people, provide week-long summer camps for kids in the Summer, and help with financial assistance and so much more,” DeBaar said.

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