Since 1891, the Salvation Army has been successfully raising money by having volunteers don red aprons and ring bells by the familiar red collection pots outside local grocery and retail stores. This year, however, is proving challenging.
In Owensboro, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle program is the nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser. Last year, the campaign raised about $115,000, which “represents a little over half of our entire budget for the year,” said captain Aaron Abram.
The nonprofit lowered this year’s goal to $93,000. But that’s not because the need for social and financial services is less.
Since March, the Salvation Army in Owensboro has assisted 24,000 individuals — up from the 9,000 individuals served in fiscal year 2019.
“We’ve seen a massive increase this year,” Abram said.
But the initial challenge has been finding enough volunteers to ring the bells outside stores. The nonprofit averages between 50 and 60 individual or group volunteer entries annually — and has only received 12 volunteer entries this year.
“People are uncertain about getting out there,” Abram said.
For nearly two weeks, there have been kettles stationed at the usual locations, including both Walmarts, Hobby Lobby and IGA in Owensboro. Abram said they will need more volunteers in the coming weeks.
To volunteer, people should visit registertoring.com. The online signup provides locations, available sites and two-hour time slots to select from. The signup site then emails a confirmation to both the volunteer and their local Salvation Army branch.
“We meet them at that point and time with everything they need,” Abram said, which this year includes a mask, gloves and disinfecting wipes.
People don’t need to leave the house to support the program, however. The Salvation Army has made it easy to donate online or to even set up a “virtual red kettle” and share a link with friends, family and coworkers.
For more information, visit salvationarmyowensboro.org.