The Salvation Army of Greater Derry is bracing for a much smaller holiday fundraising season this year as it kicks off its annual kettle campaign.
“The biggest challenge that is in front of us is COVID. People are not out and about and walking around as much as they were last year, so foot traffic has been kind of small,” said Lt. Tyler Adcox with the Salvation Army of Greater Derry.
Not only is foot traffic expected to be low this year as more shoppers opt to stay home and buy online amid a winter surge of COVID-19 cases, the Derry charity is already starting from behind with the loss of one of its most lucrative locations.
Adcox declined to name the store partner, but said due to their pandemic safety policies, a Salvation Army bellringer would not be posted at their doorways this season. Last year, bellringing at this particular store was the source of about $50,000 in donations, or about 30% of the overall funds raised by the Salvation Army of Greater Derry.
Last year’s total funds reached $160,000, according to Adcox. This year, he said they are setting the goal at $130,000.
“We lowered our goal with the expectation that COVID was going to be problematic for us,” Adcox said.
The campaign began Thursday, Nov. 12, with volunteers at Shaw’s Supermarkets in Derry and Londonderry, McKinnon’s Market in Salem, Big Lots in Derry and state liquor stores in all three towns.
On Saturday, the campaign starts sending volunteers to Walmart stores in Derry and Salem.
Bellringers are posted often from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Adcox said they’ll be spread a little thin on volunteers and if anyone wants to help out, they are encouraged to contact the organization.
To make up for some of the expected losses in retail foot traffic, Adcox said they are accepting donations of any amount online at give.salvationarmy.org/derryvirtualkettle, or residents can text DERRY to 41444 to donate by phone.
Adcox said all donations directed to Derry will stay in the community.
“If you donate specifically to Derry it stays right here in Derry,” Adcox said.
He said the money will go towards their food pantry, after-school program, youth groups and ministry for senior citizens.
“Every little bit helps, we’re just looking to rescue Christmas in any way possible,” Adcox said.
The Salvation Army’s Manchester Corps echoed similar concerns and challenges; it also reported the loss of some bellringing locations and offered online and phone donation options.
Santa Fund virtual auction
The Salvation Army also is partnering with the Union Leader on the annual Santa Fund program, which helps buy toys and meals for needy families around the holidays. Visit UnionLeader.com/Santafund to participate in a virtual auction running through midnight Friday or to make a donation.
Checks can also be sent to The Santa Fund c/o New Hampshire Union Leader, PO Box 9555, Manchester, NH, 03109.