Bells are ringing: Salvation Army Red Kettle has donation option for smartphones

From coast to coast, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle provides a familiar sight and sound during the holidays. Now, the D.C. area has kicked off its annual donation campaign, complete with that recognizable bell and a brass band.

But if you’re short on paper money or coins when you come across a Red Kettle, donation by smartphone is a new option this year.

Just look for the Apple Pay or Google Pay icons at the kettle, slide or tap your phone against the appropriate icon for your device, and then you’ll be directed to a donation page where you can give a preset amount of $5, $10 or $25, or a different amount you specify.

In order for the smartphone donation to work, make sure your payment method is set up on your phone.

The D.C. area has kicked off its annual donation campaign. (WTOP/Liz Anderson)

The Red Kettle’s origins date back to the 1890s in San Francisco, where a former sailor set up that first pot to fund a Christmas dinner for the poor in his area.

Salvation Army Capt. Joseph McFee was inspired by his maritime days in Liverpool, England, and recalled an iron kettle where folks could toss coins to help the local poor, so he decided to fund a Christmas dinner the same way.

Since the appearance of that donation kettle in San Francisco nearly 130 years ago, the Salvation Army’s goal of collecting as many dollars as possible to help folks in need remains the same.

Maj. Mark Woodcock, of the Salvation Army National Capital Area Command, said at their kickoff event outside the Cathedral Commons Giant in Northwest D.C. that their goal this year was $1.3 million.

“We hope people will not only give, but that they’ll volunteer as well,” Woodcock told WTOP.

This year’s campaign stretches just over five weeks and will wrap up on Christmas Eve.

During the kickoff ceremony, shoppers walked by on their way in or out of the store to drop dollars or coins into the pot.

“I’ve been a Rotarian for 45 years, and we’ve supported them, and I have manned the kettle before,” said David Fitzwilliam, who dropped a donation in the kettle while walking into the store. He added that he’s a yearly donor to the campaign.

Grae Baxter also dropped a donation into the Red Kettle, and said it was heartwarming “that people are out here in the cold to inspire other people’s generosity.”

To learn more about this year’s campaign, visit the Salvation Army National Capital Area Command website. You can also learn more about volunteering opportunities online.

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