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The Salvation Army sets out to ‘Rescue Christmas’

Through the duration the COVID-19 pandemic, The Salvation Army of Washington has been a source of hope and assistance for thousands of people in need within its six-county service area. Now, with the holidays just a few months away, the religious nonprofit is starting up its annual holiday fundraising campaign early. Anticipating more families in need and fewer community donations, the campaign is aptly named “Rescue Christmas.”

“Our goal is to meet the needs of the community as much as we’re able with the resources we’re given,” said The Salvation Army of Washington Capt. Karl Bush. “We’re going to do every bit that we can.”

According to a press release from the organization, The Salvation Army of Washington has seen a dramatic increase in requests for its services, across all demographics. In the past year, it has served more than 6,000 people in the region. Specifically, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the group has provided 1,700 emergency food boxes, more than $40,000 in rent and utility assistance and spiritual/emotional support to more than 3,900 people.

Based on the increase in services already provided in response to the pandemic, the organization could serve “up to 155% more people in 2020 with Christmas assistance, including putting food on the table, paying bills, providing shelter and helping place gifts under the tree — assuming the resources are available,” the release reads. “In our six-county service area, we served more than 6,000 people last year. If we see the same level of increased requests for service, we will depend on financial donations from our community more than ever to help those who need our help this holiday season.”

This increased need comes at a time when consumers are carrying less cash and many retail stores have had to close or adapt operations to the realities of COVID-19. Nationally, The Salvation Army could see as much as a 50% reduction in funds raised through its red kettle campaign. If the same holds true locally, The Salvation Army of Washington would be down close to $32,500 from last year, all critical funds for food relief, utility assistance and gifts for the annual Angel Tree toy drive, which puts together Christmas gift bags for local children in need.

“We do feel that we will still be able to have kettles out,” Bush said. “We’re still waiting on word about those larger national agreements from Belk, Walgreens, Walmart and Food Lion. It’s our prayer that we’ll be able to ring bells at those locations.”

Bush added that The Salvation Army is working on a variety of donation options which will allow individuals and organizations to raise funds virtually for the nonprofit. Additionally, there are a number of ways to help The Salvation Army meet its needs:

  • The best way to ensure that these vital services continue is to enlist in Love’s Army with a sustaining monthly gift of $25 per month.
  • To help ensure the safety of bell ringers, donors and partners, The Salvation Army has adopted nationally mandated safety protocols.
  • Donate digitally with Apple Pay or Google Pay at any red kettle you will see in the area.
  • Ask Amazon Alexa to donate by saying, “Alexa, donate to The Salvation Army,” then specifying the amount.
  • Give any amount by texting “KETTLES” to 91999.
  • Donate physical gifts in bulk.
  • Adopt additional Angels to give hope and joy to kids and families in need through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.

All donations made to the Salvation Army of Washington stay in the community, assisting local people in need. To learn more about this year’s holiday efforts or donate, visit www.rescuechristmas.org. If you need services or know of someone in need, visit www.salvationarmycarolinas.org/Washington to learn more about assistance available.