No cash, no problem at Salvation Army red kettles in the DC area this year

The red kettles in the D.C. area will now offer a tap-and-go credit card option to donate. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

The red kettles in the D.C. area will now offer a tap-and-go credit card option to donate. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

A band plays at the red kettle kick-off for the Salvation Army. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

Lustine Toyota, in Virginia, donated $25,000 to the kick-off. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

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When you hear bells at the red kettle this holiday season, the Salvation Army wants you to know that they accept both cash and cards.

“Now we have an option for people just to wave their credit card in front of a donation icon and it will automatically send a donation to the Salvation Army right here in their area,” said Mark Woodcock, an area commander major for the Salvation Army National Capital Area Command.

He said the group is hoping that the new technology will help them top the $800,000 they raised from the area kettle campaign last year.

“We live in a cashless society; we’re trying to give people options to give,” Woodcock said. “When you wave it in front of our little donation icon, it’s going to beep, and you know that it’s gone through.”

The new feature works with all tap-and-go credit and debit cards.

There will be about 80 of these special red kettles in the D.C. area in addition to the ones that accept only cash and change.

Woodcock said that the credit card ones will mostly be in the high-traffic areas.

“It’s very exciting technology and makes it easy for our donors to give.”

There’s an option to donate $5, $10 and $20 with the tap-and-go option. And you can tap your card to any of those multiple times to get the amount desired.

During the event kicking off the red kettle campaign, Lustine Toyota in Virginia donated $25,000 to the kick-off.

Julie Scharff, head of contactless initiatives for Visa, said they worked with Canadian company tiptap to make the red kettles compatible with cards this holiday season.

She said there are more than 400 million contactless-enabled Visa debit and credit cards in the U.S. and the percentage of contactless transactions doubled in the last year.

“So now that people are so familiar with the feature in their everyday life, it just makes sense that they’re going to be able to tap to donate to help their local communities as well,” she said.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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