COLORADO SPRINGS — We've all seen the red kettle bell ringers outside of stores around the holidays, but with the pandemic, how many actually donated this year?
During the pandemic, many non-profit organizations like The Salvation Army weren't able to raise money like years past. Many in-person efforts were either canceled or turned virtual. However, La Shon Harrison, a corps assistant with the organization, says they were surprised with the community's support this year for the campaign.
"We were quite surprised in a good way. We were up about 25% than last year, for our kettle income this year, so that's truly a blessing," said Harrison.
The red kettle campaign is the largest fundraiser every year for the organization. The goal this year was to raise $350,000 from in-person donations, and that goal was met.
For online donations, the goal was to raise $50,000. Donations fell nearly $20,000 short.
The amount of donations were similar to years past, but the need for services increased because of the pandemic.
"To see the people non-stop, all day, every day, coming here and asking for help in any way that they could get it, was hard," said Harrison.
Money raised during the holidays helps fund services throughout the year like the food box distribution, which saw a 40% increase in those in need. Some of the new services offered this year because of the pandemic were the remote learning center, where staff help kids get their school work done; a home delivery food program, which delivers food to people who otherwise can't get it on their own; and a rental assistance program.
"For anybody who lost their job to COVID, and was having problems paying their rent, they were able to come down here and speak with one of our social services coordinators and work something out that way," said Harrison.
The organization spent about $300,000 to help people in the community pay rent this year because of the pandemic.
Online donations have been extended through New Year's. For more information about The Salvation Army or how to donate, click here.