There will be fewer of those iconic red kettles seeking your donations this holiday season, and there will likely be fewer of you out and about shopping in the weeks leading up to Christmas — due to the COVID-19 crisis that continues to threaten the public's health.

Knowing these obstacles and limits, and dealing with a significant uptick in the number of requests for services, The Salvation Army is starting its annual holiday fundraising campaign earlier this year than ever before.

"Online giving will be a big part of what we do," said Major Jonathan Jackson, divisional secretary for The Salvation Army New Jersey.

The campaign, Rescue Christmas, is designed to put a dent in what could be up to a 50% decrease in funds raised through the red kettles — about $2 million was raised in kettles in New Jersey over the past three years.

There will be far fewer kettles, the charitable organization said, and significantly less foot traffic is anticipated, given the closures of brick-and-mortar stores and the pandemic's impact on personal finances.

"Whatever we did last year, we know that we're not going to hit those numbers," Jackson said. "We're just trying to be in the best position that we can be, so we can continue to serve."

Contactless methods of giving are key. Donations are possible through Amazon Alexa and at Folks can give any amount by texting KETTLES to 91999.

When the kettles do come out in November, they'll be equipped with phone codes that allow people to donate digitally with Apple Pay or Google Pay. Donations stay in the community where they are given.

The Salvation Army said "enormous increased requests for services in New Jersey" since COVID-19 hit the state will mean "exponential need this holiday season." Since March, the New Jersey Division of the social-services organization has provided more than 4.8 million meals and more than 40,000 nights of safe shelter to people in need.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

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