Podcast: In Era of COVID-19, Salvation Army Offers Alternatives to Red Kettle Donations

With the calendar flipping to November, more people are starting to think about preparing for the holidays—and that includes the organizations that work hard to make sure those who are less fortunate have gifts under the tree. It also means changes in the era of COVID-19.

At the Salvation Army in Haverhill, Major Walter Rivers, a guest recently on WHAV’s morning program, says this Christmas season will have a different look for shoppers who like to put coins and bills in the Salvation Army red kettle.

“Well this year, because of COVID, at present we don’t have any kettle stands, locally, for people to stand at. We’ve got retail stores closing. People are carrying less cash. At stores that are open, there will more than likely be less foot traffic this year. With the unemployment rate continuing to be at a fairly high level, not just in the Commonwealth, but around the country, we’re really looking at a tough time for us this year,” he says.

And without the kettles, shoppers won’t be hearing the Salvation Army bells—something Rivers has been ringing since he was 14 years old.

“Hearing that bell when you’re going in and out of the store, or walking down the street, is just something that’s just always been a part of the Christmas landscape and to not have that really takes us out of people’s minds not just during the holidays, but in other parts of the year,” he adds.

Rivers says the Salvation Army is estimating that nationally, Kettle contributions could be down by as much as 50%. Rivers’ wife, Major Lynnann Rivers, says people can still help. They are accepting new toy donations, during business hours, at the Salvation Army in Haverhill—and looking for other support too

“We’re hoping some stores may take an angel tree with the tags on it for people to purchase gifts and return. I haven’t heard yet from some of the businesses that normally give. Southwick was one of those businesses, so we are losing a good van load of toys with the closure of Southwick,” she says.

Rivers says shoppers may also visit Walmart.com, go to the registry-for-good section and purchase items that will be delivered to the Salvation Army. Checks may also be made out to the Salvation Army and mailed to 395 Main St., Haverhill, MA 01830. For those technically inclined, Salvation Army vans have a QR code on them that may be scanned by phone. Donations may also be made at the Salvation Army donation page.

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