MILWAUKEE - It isn't Halloween yet but organizations are already starting to plan for Christmas. For the first time in 130 years, The Salvation Army is starting its annual holiday fundraising campaign early across the country.
The sound of the Salvation Army Bell is a staple of the holiday season.
"You hear that when you get out of the cars at the shopping centers, at the stores that is a sense of—the Red Kettle Campaign has been going for 130 years—it really is a piece of the fabric of Christmas across the United States," said Steven Merritt, Divisional Commander Wisconsin & Upper Michigan.
The Red Kettles will be out again this year -- but things will look a little different. The kettles will be out starting Nov. 13 but the bell ringer will stand six feet away.
The Salvation Army
The campaign itself has already started with virtual Red Kettles.
"We know the need is going to be great. A lot of families out of work, so the Salvation Army just wants to make sure we’re ready to continue to meet the needs this year," said Merritt.
Steven Merritt, Salvation Army Divisional Commander Wisconsin & Upper Michigan
In 2019, 60,000 toys were given out in Milwaukee County. This year, they're expecting to give out more than 100,000. All to meet this year's theme of "Rescue Christmas."
"We really feel rescuing is a keyword this year as we move through this pandemic and these strange days, that everybody has the opportunity to help rescue Christmas for those that find themselves in a spot of need this year that had no idea four, six months ago, a year ago, had no idea they’d need rescuing this year," said Merritt.
The Red Kettle Campaign also helps fund projects well past the holidays.
The Salvation Army wants to remind people to give only to Red Kettles that are clearly marked as being associated with the organization.
There are several ways to help give back throughout the season:
- Sign up to be a bell ringer at www.registertoring.com (Due to COVID-19 all bell ringers will wear masks, wipe down kettles after each donation, wear gloves, and will stand six feet away from the kettle)
- Sign up to volunteer for any of our holiday programs (Coats for Kids, Toy Shop, Christmas Family Feast) at http://bit.ly/TSAMKEHolidayVolunteers
- Donate by mail by sending a check to The Salvation Army, 11315 W. Watertown Plank Road, Wauwatosa, WI 53226
- Donate by phone by texting MKE to 24365
- Donate online at SAMilwaukee.org
- Create your own red kettle fundraising page.