MANITOBANS who want to donate to the Salvation Army kettle campaign have a new option — they can "tiptap."
"It’s a way to limit contact and make giving as safe as possible during the pandemic," said Blair Malazdrewich, a spokesman for the Salvation Army Prairie division.
Through touchless giving, donors can choose an amount they want to give — $5, $10 or $20 — then tap their credit cards, he said.
"It’s a cool thing," he said. "Just tap and it automatically makes your donation."
A big challenge for the organization is once again finding enough volunteers to accompany the kettles.
"We always need more volunteers," Malazdrewich said, noting the pandemic has made it tougher to find people.
It has also been a challenge to get the word out in the city’s five Salvation Army churches, which have had limited gatherings due to public-health restrictions.
"We are really pushing out the word on social media," he said, adding that people don’t have to be Salvation Army members to volunteer at the kettles. "Anyone is welcome."
All volunteers have to be fully vaccinated to serve at kettle locations. "We want to add to the safety for people who want to donate," he said.
The target for this year’s campaign, which launched last week, is $350,000 in Winnipeg, and $2 million across the division, which includes Manitoba, Saskatchewan and northwest Ontario.
Last year, the charity raised almost $200,000 in Winnipeg and nearly $1.3 million in the division.
The organization hopes to raise $20 million nationally.
Money raised in the division stays here, Malazdrewich said, and will be used for programs which provide shelter, meals, education and other services for vulnerable people.
"It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year," he said, noting kettles can be found in malls and stores throughout the province.
The campaign is doubly important this year, due to the increased need from the pandemic and rising costs for things such as PPE and sanitizers and other cleaning equipment and items.
"It’s been a tough year for many," Malazdrewich said. "But we know Manitobans will come through for us."
People who want to volunteer at a kettle can do so by calling the Army at 204-975-1033. Donations can also be made online at www.salvationarmy.ca/prairie.
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.