CLEVELAND — 2020 was expected to be a trying year for the Salvation Army's red kettle campaign but turns out 2021 has been an even greater challenge.
"The closer you get to Christmas the more giving people are and the more opportunities you'll have, so we're at crunch time," said Thomas Applin, Greater Cleveland Salvation Army.
The social services agency is struggling to find paid or volunteer bell ringers.
"We use a combination of both to collect at the holiday season," said Applin.
In Northeast Ohio, the goal is to raise $650,000 to help support food pantries, basic needs and provide hot meals at five community centers.
"When we don't have the staff, whether it's paid or volunteer, we can't put the kettles out and that means we can't get the income," said Applin.
That lack of manpower has so far translated into big losses.
The Salvation Army is currently off the pace from where it was at this time last year.
"We're down about $50,000," said Applin.
With just a few weeks to go, the push is on to find people to ring the iconic bell.
"Whether that's two hours or a whole day," said Applin.
Applin said that for every two hours a volunteer stands at a red kettle the Salvation Army can provide 104 meals to neighbors in need.
"We desperately, desperately need volunteers," said Applin.
"We're just doing our best to try and get the word out so we can try and get as many volunteers as possible," said Applin.
New for 2021, you can make a donation using PayPal or Venmo at the kettles by scanning a QR code.
Applin hopes by expanding contactless giving it will help them engage more holiday shoppers.
If you'd like to sign up to volunteer, you can CLICK HERE. You just choose a location, day and time. All kettle sites are listed.