The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida finds success with first-ever telethon

By: Brad Rowland

On Dec. 3, The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida held its first-ever telethon fundraiser, in part to compensate for challenges facing the Red Kettle Campaign in 2020. The need is greater than ever because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and thanks to the support of partners, the telethon raised nearly $100,000 to help pay for year-round services.

Two local television partners, CBS47 and FOX30, hosted the telethon. It was staged at TIAA Bank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, through the help of Peter Racine and the Jaguar Foundation.

Additional support, including volunteers, was provided by The Church of Eleven22, Meninak Club of Jacksonville, Rotary Club of Jacksonville, and The Bethel Church.

“When the message to help ‘Rescue Christmas’ went out to the public during our first telethon, the wonderful outpouring of support from the Northeast Florida community was overwhelming,” said Major Keath Biggers, area commander.

“The Salvation Army is so thankful to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Action News Jax, and our awesome volunteers who made it possible for this telethon to be a tremendous success, which will enable us to meet the increased needs – not only this Christmas season, but throughout the year.”

Donations will help fund emergency relief, clothing assistance, and shelter, food, transportation, youth, financial and Christmas assistance programs. One example of increased need is the Army’s Angel Tree program, which saw the number of angels nearly double in 2020 compared to previous years.

Since COVID-19 began impacting the area in March, The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida has provided more than 5,000 meals, food boxes and hygiene kits, and has given direct financial assistance to more than 50 households affected by income loss.

“Funds raised from the Red Kettle Campaign are critical to ensure we can help all those in need, and these heartwarming gifts continue to amaze and inspire our staff, bell-ringers and volunteers,” Major Biggers said. “We are encouraged by every donation, because it means someone gave of their hard-earned money to help others. We hope that the telethon inspired others to give.”