The Red Deer Salvation Army will be making it as safe as possible for people to donate to its annual Christmas kettle campaign, with the addition of tap machines for debit cards.
Maj. Kent Hepditch said the machines should be available at all seven kettle locations by Dec. 1. for the campaign, which runs from Nov. 13 to Dec. 24.
“We will still have a volunteer there with a regular kettle. There will still be people who will want to give cash,” Hepditch said.
He said tap machines provide another option during the pandemic, in addition to being useless to any thieves.
“It seems like the COVID cases are continuing to rise, so it’s possible it could come to a point where we just go with all unmanned kettles if the cases get really bad in Red Deer.”
The goal this year is to raise $250,000, but that might be tough if there are fewer people out shopping, he said.
“We don’t really know what to expect. We’re just going to do our best this year and mostly try to keep everyone safe. If we can’t accomplish our goal, we’ll do the best with what we get.”
So far, fewer volunteers have stepped forward. Many regular volunteers are seniors, including members of service clubs.
“Everyone is a little more cautious. If there are people who are willing to volunteer, just give us a call. We certainly could use more volunteers.”
To help, call Debbie at the Salvation Army, at 403-346-2251 for information about shifts, locations and safety precautions.
Money raised by the campaign goes towards the Salvation Army’s year-round programs and services, including a weekend meal program for children, food hampers, Christmas assistance, and more.
Hepditch said demand for services has been down slightly in recent months, which may be due to government subsidies during COVID.
Christmas kettles will be located at Central Alberta Co-op locations in Timberlands and Deer Park, Bower Place shopping mall, Walmart south, Canadian Tire south and Real Canadian Superstore. A kettle will also be at Costco in Gasoline Alley, but only from Dec. 10 to 24.