75-kettle event launches ‘Rescue Christmas’ in Atlanta
By: David Ibata
On a rainy day in Georgia, Tuesday, Sept. 29, The Salvation Army in Atlanta took up the challenge to “Rescue Christmas” with a dramatic early kickoff to its Red Kettle Campaign – lining up 75 kettles outside State Farm Arena, and beside each, a person holding a sign that describes what happens if the bell doesn’t ring this Christmas.
“When this bell stays silent, my grandma can’t get her medication.”
“When this bell doesn’t ring, it’s another month without heat.”
“When this bell stays silent, children go to bed with hungry bellies.”
“Because of COVID-19, The Salvation Army is seeing truly unprecedented need throughout metro Atlanta,” said Major Bob Parker, area commander for The Salvation Army Metropolitan Atlanta Area Command. “In some of our locations, requests for food and financial assistance have increased four-fold. As we head into the Christmas season, we expect this need to increase even more.”
The call to “Rescue Christmas” comes from National Headquarters. For the first time in 130 years, The Salvation Army is starting its annual holiday fund-raising early.
The financial stress on families and individuals caused by the continuing coronavirus pandemic is expected to result in an increase of as much as 155 percent in the number of people seeking help this year from The Salvation Army. At the same time, the closing of stores, consumers carrying less cash and coins, and the decline in foot traffic could mean up to a 50 percent decrease in funds raised through the red kettles.
Last year, The Salvation Army raised $126 million through about 30,000 kettles around the country. In Atlanta, just over $1.2 million was raised through the Red Kettle Campaign.
“Our ability to raise vital funds to serve those in need this Christmas and beyond is at risk,” said Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder, national commander of The Salvation Army. “We need everyone who has the capacity to come alongside us and ensure that the holiday season is bright for millions.”
The best way to ensure vital services continue is to enlist in Love’s Army, with a sustaining matching gift of $25 per month. People also can donate digitally using Apple Pay or Google Pay at any red kettle; by saying to Amazon Alexa, “Alexa, donate to The Salvation Army,” and then specifying the amount; or texting “KETTLES” to 91999.
People are invited to donate physical gifts in bulk; and to adopt additional angels to benefit children and families through The Salvation Army Angel Tree program. Also, the bell ringers will be out, following COVID-19 safety precautions to protect themselves and the public.
In metro Atlanta, a 155-percent increase in demand for services could mean nearly 80,000 people seeking help this year, up from 39,695 served last year.
Since March, the Army in Atlanta has provided more than 400,000 meals and nearly 63,000 nights of safe shelter to those in need (nationally, those figures are 100 million meals and 1.5 million nights of shelter, as well as emotional and spiritual support to more than 800,000 people).
“We’re relying on the faithful support of our partners and donors in the community to help The Salvation Army of Metro Atlanta continue to meet that need,” Major Parker said.
PHOTO CREDIT: Don Felice