Red Kettle Campaign in doubt for Salvation Army because of COVID-19

NY News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) The Salvation Army of Syracuse may not be able to hold its single biggest fundraiser of the entire year because of COVID-19.

The Red Kettle Campaign, which runs in November and December, usually brings in about a quarter million dollars to help fund agency programs. The pandemic may force it to shut down completely or be greatly reduced, with fewer kettles.

Gina Lazara, Public Relations Manager for the Salvation Army of Syracuse, says, “I don’t want to say we’re in panic mode, but it wouldn’t be a far stretch from that.”

She says the conversation about the kettle campaign has started much earlier than usual, and is much different.

“The best case scenario is we still get some kettles out, maybe not as many as usual and maybe we make 10% of what we normally do and we find other ways to make up for that. The worst case scenario, people don’t get to see the Red Kettle at all this year,” Lazara tells NewsChannel 9.

The agency is talking about different ways to replace the money raised by the kettle campaign, whether it’s a virtual model or something else, but she says there’s something about people seeing the kettles and hearing the bell ringing that gets them to donate.

Lazara says the pandemic has changed all of that, “People may really not be out shopping, but even before that, Jeff, the stores may not even allow us to put out the kettles.”

The Kettle Campaign usually funds programs outside of the core mission of the agency, like programs for at-risk teens. This year, because of the financial hit from COVID-19, that money would have to help fund part of all 40 programs run by the agency in Onondaga County.

“When people help us, we’re able to help the community,” Lazara says.

She adds the closings of JC Penney and Lord and Taylor at Destiny USA by kettle time, around the holiday season, automatically takes out two key locations.

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