The drop in temperatures makes it tougher on the people ringing the bells at the Salvation Army red kettles, and it also puts a bit of a chill on donations. Lia Pontarelli is the spokesperson for the Salvation Army in Cedar Rapids. “Having such a cold start to our kettle season is not very exciting to us, ” Pontarelli says. “Last year it got very cold, but it got cold a little later in our kettle season.”
Cold weather makes people want to get in and out of stores quickly and keeps them from stopping to drop a donation into the kettles. “We’re hoping that as the holidays come a little bit closer — with Thanksgiving this week, Christmas is a month away now– hopefully people will start getting in that spirit and despite the cold weather they will still give.”
Modern economics have also hurt the kettle campaigns across Iowa and across the country as Pontarelli says people don’t carry as much money with them. She says they are trying to use technology and social media to help out with the donations. “Encouraging people to be an on-line bell ringer. You can set up a kettle yourself and you can send an e-blast out, you can post it on your social media and you can help be a bell ringer in your pajamas, on your couch or in front of your fireplace,” Pontarelli explains.
She says they’ve looked at many options to make it easier for people to chip in. “Different locations have tried text to give at the red kettle, where you can text in your donation. Some locations tried having a credit card machine right at the kettle, but again you’re walking into as store and you really don’t want to fumble through to try to find your wallet and pull out your credit card,” Pontarelli says. “And then also with the cold weather you really have your hands bundled up with your head down and heading into the store, and that’s never going to change that. So, going to the on-line method I think is a good change for us.”
Pontarelli says you can use the online system anywhere in the state. “If you do a Google search for Salvation Army in your town, you should be able to find the Army that is closet to you,” Pontarelli says. “And also the same goes with the online red kettle. If you go to www.redkettle.org, you should be able to find the red kettle nearest your location.”
She says the Red Kettle Campaign raises important funds for the organization. “During the Christmas campaign we raise about 40-percent of our annual operating budget, so it really helps set the pace for what we are going to be able to do throughout the entire year in the community.” according to Pontarelli. “It helps us pay people’s rent in June or provide meals in September for kids. So the money that we raise now is imperative to the help that we can provide our community year round.”
The Red Kettle Campaign runs through Christmas Eve.