HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – Shoppers can expect to be greeted by iconic bells ringing outside stores asking for donations for the Salvation Army this holiday.
Horry County Salvation Army’s Captain, Carl Melton, says this year’s need is greater than ever before.
“We are serving well over 1,000 more kids than we did last year,” Melton said. “There are kids out there who did not need it last year. The recurring story that keeps coming up is just last year I adopted kids to help their Christmas, and this year I am in line because I need help giving my kids Christmas. That’s the reality.”
Because of COVID-19 and a bigger need to fill, the Red Kettle Campaign started earlier than usual. The early bell ringing and new digital format rolling out is part of the Salvation Army’s mission, “Rescue Christmas.”
While there will be limited locations, people can expect to see traditional Red Kettles and Angel Trees set up across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee outside places like grocery stores and malls.
Ringing the bell gives people like Sarah Deckert joy year after year. Outside the Coastal Grand Mall this holiday, Deckert will ring her bell until the red kettle is full.
“I do this every year, and I just could not wait for it to start,” Deckert said. “Every time someone puts something in, I say ‘God bless them.’”
Holiday sights and sounds will ring through November and December, carrying on an annual tradition and introducing new precautions.
A new digital format allows donors to scan a QR code with their phone and make donations online.
Angel tree children can also be adopted and shopped for online from your device. The traditional handpicking of the name off of the angel tree will still be an option. However, mobile access will allow people to buy angel tree gifts online and have them sent directly to the Salvation Army distribution center.
The Salvation Army is preparing to see up to a 50% decrease in Red Kettle Campaign funds this year due to several factors caused by the pandemic:
- Consumers carrying less cash and fewer coins
- More online shopping, which means less foot traffic in shopping areas
- Unemployment rates
- Recent closures of some brick-and-mortar retail stores
The Salvation Army is working with national partners like Walmart, Starbucks, Hobby Lobby, as well as some local businesses and churches to set up Red Kettle Campaigns and Angel Trees across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee.
If you’d like to get involved or donate to the Grand Strand and Pee Dee “Rescue Christmas” operation, click here or email Heather.Crawford@uss.salvationarmy.org.
For The Salvation Army Wish List, click here.
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