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ATLANTA – For the first time in 130 years, The Salvation Army is starting its annual holiday fundraising campaign early across the country in order to rescue Christmas. The funds raised through the organization’s iconic red kettles are at risk this year due to COVID-19 while requests for services are at an all-time high.

Based on the increase in services already provided in response to the pandemic, The Salvation Army nationally could serve up to 155 percent more people in 2020 with Christmas assistance, including putting food on the table, paying bills, providing shelter and helping place gifts under the tree – assuming the resources are available.

“In metro Atlanta, we served 39,695 people last year,” Salvation Army officials said in a release. “If we see the same level of increased requests for service, that would mean nearly 80,000 people would need our help this holiday season.”

At the same time, due to the closing of retail stores, consumers carrying less cash and coins, and the decline in foot traffic, The Salvation Army could see up to a 50 percent decrease in funds raised nationally through the red kettles, which would limit their capability to provide services for the most vulnerable. To put this in perspective, last year $126 million was raised nationally and $1.2 million locally through about 30,000 red kettles.

“Because of COVID-19, The Salvation Army is seeing truly unprecedented need throughout metro Atlanta,” said Major Bob Parker, area commander for The Salvation Army of Metro Atlanta. In some of our locations, requests for food and financial assistance have increased four-fold. As we head into the Christmas season, we expect this need to increase even more. We’re relying on the faithful support of our partners and donors in the community to help The Salvation Army of Metro Atlanta continue to meet that need.”

Since March, The Salvation Army of Metro Atlanta has provided more than 380,889 meals and 139,030 nights of safe shelter to those in need. Now more than ever, we’re making it safer and simpler to donate in order to support the most vulnerable in Georgia:

· The best way to ensure that these vital services continue is to enlist in Love’s Army with a sustaining monthly gift of $25 per month.

· This year, you’ll begin seeing kettles around metro Atlanta in late September. To help ensure the safety of bell ringers, donors and partners, The Salvation Army has adopted nationally mandated safety protocols.

· Donate digitally with Apple Pay or Google Pay at any red kettle in Georgia.

· Ask Amazon Alexa to donate by saying, “Alexa, donate to The Salvation Army,” then specifying the amount.

· Give any amount by texting “KETTLES” to 91999.

· Donate physical gifts in bulk.

· Adopt additional Angels to give hope and joy to kids and families in need through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.

Every donation provides help and hope to those in need, and all gifts stay within the community in which they are given. Visit RescueChristmas.org to donate or learn more about how you can help The Salvation Army rescue Christmas this year. If you need services or know of someone in need, please visit www.salvationarmyatlanta.org to find a location near you.

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