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The Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland has fewer red kettles to meet record-high needs amid COVID-19

A limited availability of bell ringers has put the iconic campaign significantly behind pace with only two weeks left.

CLEVELAND — The world has seen a year unlike any before it throughout the COIVD-19 global pandemic.

The needs have never been greater, The Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland says, as they have seen a 174% spike in local needs for food programs since March.

The Salvation Army depends on their annual holiday fundraising initiatives, including their red kettles, to keep their programs running. Yet, this year, The Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland's kettle campaign is running $400,000 behind pace with only two weeks left.

RELATED: Ohio non-profits seek help to fill COVID-19 pandemic needs

"Where we have kettles, we are seeing good donations from the community," Major Thomas Applin, Divisional Secretary of Greater Cleveland Area Services, said. However, we simply don't have enough folks to staff all of our kettle locations. Health concerns around COVID have drastically reduced our ability to have bell ringers at each of our retail partners."

The Salvation Army's fundraising goal for this holiday season is $650,000, to be allocated as Christmas assistance, emergency food, housing and utility assistance, after school activities, programs for seniors and more. 

Keeping the safety of workers and givers in mind, The Salvation Army is offering contactless giving at their red kettles this season. Individuals are able to use Apple Pay and Google Pay at kettles for their convenience.

"So many people do not carry cash on them nowadays," Applin said. "We are excited to have a way to engage with more individuals. It is a great piece of technology that is simple and easy to use! This year's kettle campaign also includes a virtual online kettle for those that want to support our efforts from the safety and comfort of their home."

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