Metro Division Launches Christmas Campaign Early with 75 Red Kettles on Michigan Ave
Working people and tourists in downtown Chicago on September 14 were likely checking their calendars when they came upon an unexpected sight: Salvation Army red kettles and bell ringers. As part of the Army’s early launch of our national Christmas campaign, the Metropolitan Division posted dozens of the iconic red kettles all along Michigan Avenue, about two months earlier than usual.
This is the first time The Salvation Army has launched our annual Christmas campaign early, a change that was motivated by the ongoing financial hardship brought on by COVID-19. In the Metro Division, which encompasses greater Chicagoland, northern Illinois, and northwestern Indiana, some of our corps have seen up to a 500 percent increase in requests for help. These requests are only expected to rise as the pandemic continues into the winter months.
Unfortunately, the elevated need comes at a time when we expect to have fewer of our red kettles out this year, due to the pandemic. Additionally, fewer people are going to retail establishments, where they encounter our kettles. The Army hopes the extended fundraising season will help offset some of these challenges.
While the red kettles won’t hit the streets until November 9, The Salvation Army is asking for donations online now to help Rescue Christmas for our neighbors in need. Almost 70 percent of The Salvation Army’s donations are made during the Red Kettle Campaign.
Those donations help people like Angela. Last year she signed her three youngest children up for the Army’s Angel Tree program, which provides Christmas gifts to children who otherwise wouldn’t receive them due to the family’s financial hardship. Through the program, her 9-year-old son Daniel and 6-year-old son Isaias received tablets for Christmas, items that have proven especially helpful as COVID-19 has meant school is strictly virtual for the time being.
“Without this program, we wouldn’t have presents. We wouldn’t have Christmas,” Angela said. Her family also receives groceries from The Salvation Army, and has received assistance with their rent during the recent months of the pandemic. “The Salvation Army brings comfort,” she said. “The Salvation Army means everything.”