Salvation Army kettle donations drop
Bell ringers hurt by economy, new supermarket policy, group says
One of the Salvation Army's most recognizable fundraisers the Red Kettle campaign isn't performing well in its first week and representatives are pointing toward a new Giant Food policy as the reason.
The National Capital Area Salvation Army reported today that the campaign where volunteers and paid personnel stand outside shopping centers during the holidays ringing a bell to draw attention to the large red bucket next to them has seen a $74,000 drop in donations compared to the same week last year.
Red Kettles collected $158,375 between Nov. 12 and 20 this year, compared to $232,378 in the same week in 2009.
Area Commander Major Steve Morris, reported today that "the economy's tight hold on family budgets" and a new policy instituted by Giant Food account for the decrease. The grocer's policy reduced the number of days the Salvation Army can be at the grocery stores to one week in November and one week in December for four hours each day.
The drop in donations was most pronounced at Giant locations, Morris wrote in the report, which saw a $99,225 change from 2009.
Ken Forsythe, a spokesman for the Salvation Army, said 262 ringers are typically outside shopping centers and grocery stores six days each week for 8 to 10 hours per day during the entire campaign.
Giant Food of Landover issued a statement about the new policy this week, stating it was started to handle the rise in nonprofit organizations asking to solicit donations outside their stores. The policy limits solicitation to one group per store per day.
To account for the Red Kettle's demand, Giant permitted them an entire week in their Maryland stores.
"Because of the increased needs in our communities, we felt it essential to create opportunities for as many community groups as possible," the statement says.
The Red Kettle campaign brought in $1.35 million to the National Capital Area Salvation Army last year. It is scheduled to run through Dec. 24, the same time period as last year, Forsythe said.
The National Capital Area Salvation Army covers Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland, Fairfax County and the City of Alexandria in Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
To donate to the Salvation Army:
Text: "GIVE" to 85944 ($10 automatic donation)
Drop off: Cash to any 292 Red Kettle locations in and around Montgomery County