Holiday giving

‘Incredible Challenge': COVID's Hit Holiday Donations, So Charities Get Creative

The Salvation Army's annual Red Kettle campaign has been significantly curtailed, given that fewer stores are open, fewer volunteers are available and there's less foot traffic

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The coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop the Salvation Army Massachusetts Division from hosting its annual Christmas Castle event in Dorchester Monday.

About 5,000 families were able to get food and toys for Christmas, including Alice Ramos and her nephew.

“This COVID’s been really hard. My sister tested out positive at the beginning of COVID and it made it difficult for her to work,” said Ramos, of Boston.

But with donations down significantly at charities across the Bay State, it isn’t easy to pull something like this off.

“Trying to help more people with fewer people giving creates an incredible challenge,” said Salvation Army Massachusetts General Secretary Major Marcus Jugenheimer.

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The pandemic has also made it harder for charities like the Salvation Army to collect donations, Jugenheimer said. The annual Red Kettle campaign has been significantly curtailed, given that fewer stores are open, fewer volunteers are available and there's less foot traffic.

So the Salvation Army has created virtual kettles instead.

“Even at the red kettles, if they don’t want to handle cash, there’s opportunity to give there with Tap to Give through Apple Pay and Google Pay,” Jugenheimer said.

Similarly, Action for Boston Community Development, or ABCD, has also had to take its fundraising online.

“We had three major events canceled. That reduced our ability to raise funds,” ABCD President and CEO John Drew said.

The COVID-19 pandemic is leading to a national coin shortage and is expected to put a major dent in the charity's main fundraiser.

On Friday, the anti-poverty agency is holding a FaceBook Live event with former Celtics Coach Doc Rivers to benefit those in need.

“Part of the help that we’re asking for here is just what we can do more than we’re doing now, because I don’t want to turn away anybody,” Drew said.

Charities like ABCD and the Salvation Army say online donations will be vital to keeping programs going for those in need.

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