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Salvation Army’s red kettlebell program in jeopardy this year

You may not see Salvation Army bell ringers outside local stores this holiday season. News4jax reporter Ashley Harding joins us live this morning.
You may not see Salvation Army bell ringers outside local stores this holiday season. News4jax reporter Ashley Harding joins us live this morning.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The coronavirus pandemic has impacted lives and daily operations in ways most never imagined. That includes the Salvation Army.

Robert Devers, the development director for the Salvation Army’s Northeast Florida chapter, said there’s a lot of uncertainty about whether you will see volunteers ringing bells in front of local stores for its kettlebell program this holiday season.

“With our annual fundraising red kettle program in jeopardy this year, we’re asking people to be extremely generous and give early,” Devers said. “We’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.”

Devers said the charity has not been given the green light from local businesses to allow volunteers to ring bells. He said so far, Hobby Lobby is the only business in our area to say yes.

With that, the Salvation Army is pushing to “Rescue Christmas." It’s a nationwide push to get people to donate safely online, as early as possible.

Devers said the local chapter is expecting quite a few more families requesting assistance this holiday season.

“We’re anticipating a 150% increase this year in those that are needing help with Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Devers said.

Devers said even if enough businesses were able to sign on, there could still be big challenges in collecting enough money to meet the need. For instance, Devers said, there’s simply not as much foot traffic this year due to online shopping and curbside pickup. He said the nationwide coin shortage this year could also play a part.

That’s why the Salvation Army is asking you to take action, donate online, and share on social media that the organization needs help.

“It is absolutely critical for our programs to continue to help the most vulnerable in our community,” Devers said.

The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida will soon take applications for those families in need this holiday season. Devers said applications are being accepted from Sept. 28-Oct. 9. Families must be able to prove they are residents of Duval County and are eligible to receive assistance. To learn how you can donate to “rescue Christmas," click here.

In addition to the online fundraising endeavor, the Salvation Army has another event this week to help families facing poverty. Biscottis has put together a takeout dinner for customers to enjoy on Thursday. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Salvation Army. The three-course dinner is $35 per person and is available to purchase through Thursday. Customers will have a choice of delivery for an extra fee or can pick up the order from 5-7 p.m. at 3556 St. Johns Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32205. To see the menu, click here.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.