By Kristin Emery

The Salvation Army Western PA Division is looking for volunteers across 28 counties who want to help Rescue Christmas as this year’s regional Red Kettle Campaign prepares to kick off. The iconic red kettles will appear at local retailers starting in November, and donations support families and individuals in our local communities with food, clothing and other basic needs.

During the first three months of the pandemic, The Salvation Army Western PA Division provided 256,054 meals and 72,118 food boxes.

“It is estimated that we will serve up to 155% more people this year with Christmas assistance,” says Stephanie Rex, director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Salvation Army Western PA Division. “Helping to put food on the table, helping to pay bills, offering a safe place of shelter and warmth and providing gifts and toys for children. For these reasons and more, our volunteers and donors are key to making this year’s Red Kettle Campaign a success.”

Rex stresses that the need is greater than ever.

“There is no quarantine from poverty, no quarantine from hunger and no quarantine from homelessness.”

The organization is recruiting volunteers to help at retailers in our local communities. “Our volunteers can support the Red Kettle Campaign – Rescue Christmas by becoming bell ringers,” says Rex. “Whether someone can volunteer for one day, for one week, or for the entire length of the campaign – every little bit helps.”

The kettles still accept cash, but with a shift to a cashless society and concerns over COVID-19, there are now contactless and digital ways to donate. Google and Apple Pay work by lifting your phone to the kettle signage. You can also share The Salvation Army’s virtual kettle on social media or donate at salvationarmywpa.org/RescueChristmas. Amazon Alexa users can contribute by saying, “Alexa, donate to The Salvation Army,” and you can also give by texting “KETTLES” to 91999.

If you want to volunteer, visit salvationarmywpa.org.

New health and safety protocols include requiring masks for bell ringers, sanitizing kettle equipment at the beginning and end of each day and training ringers to step aside as donors approach kettles to allow a safe social distance.

Columnist

Kristin Emery is a meteorologist at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, an O-R columnist, and writer for Total Health magazine and other publications. Kristin is a Washington native and a graduate of Washington High School and West Virginia University.

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