Salvation Army Kettle Donations Down Sharply

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Cope-Arms: “Let it go!”
(sound of a coin being dropped in the kettle)
Cope-Arms: “And, your last one.”
At the Westfield Downtown Plaza on Sacramento’s K Street Mall, Virginia Cope-Arms is teaching her two-and-a-half year-old daughter Andrea how to drop a few coins in the Salvation Army kettle.
Cope-Arms: “It’s a good lesson about how you help others.”
Andrea hesitates a bit each time – her mom says she has special needs.
Cope-Arms: “… and this is her first actual outing on holiday season instead of being in the hospital.”
Cope-Arms says she’s dropped some money in the kettle for decades – ever since she was her daughter’s age. And even though times are tough right now…
Cope-Arms: “It’s just that time of year, that it doesn’t matter if you have little or a lot. It’s all about giving – it’s the spirit of giving and helping others.”
But even with TV personalities and other celebrities ringing the bells Thursday, the Salvation Army still faces a holiday season unlike any other.
Bentley: “We’re down about 32 percent right now through our kettle campaign.”
David Bentley is the army’s Sacramento County coordinator. And he says the kettles aren’t the only donations taking a hit from the recession.
Bentley: “We did our toy drive last Thursday/Friday. And the previous year, we had about 5,000 toys donated. This year, we had about 600 toys donated. So our toys are down as well.”
Ben: “You said, from 5,000 to 600.”
Bentley: “Yes, it was dramatic.”
Bentley hopes the new credit card kettle will help boost donations. The national Salvation Army tried it out last year at a few test locations around the country … and it’s going nationwide this year.
Bentley: “We live in a day and age now where a lot of people don’t carry cash with them. So it does make it difficult when we have our kettles out, people reach in their wallets and go, oh, my gosh, I don’t have any money with me. So this just makes it easier for people to give.”
The question is … will it help enough?

Note: The Salvation Army is currently an underwriter of Capital Public Radio programming.