The Salvation Army in Hilo is asking the public for more help with its holiday programs as Christmas nears.
While the sights and sounds of The Salvation Army’s iconic Red Kettles and bell ringers are synonymous with the holiday season, this year things are different.
Red Kettle donations support community-based programs in the area of each island where each donation is made. To help ensure the safety of bell ringers, donors and partners, The Salvation Army has adopted nationally mandated COVID-19 safety protocols. Due to the pandemic, approximately 75% fewer Red Kettles have been deployed across the state.
“We’re estimating the kettle income will be down by about $60,000 in East Hawaii due to less consumer traffic and less sites,” Lt. Jacob Bratton said. “Not as many sites allowed us to bell ring, and some places we usually stand have closed.”
To help supplement the lack of kettles, virtual kettles have been established for various communities statewide on HawaiiRedKettle.org.
Physical kettles and bell ringers will be located at the Macy’s in Hilo, Walmart stores in Hilo and Kailua-Kona, and KTA Super Stores, including downtown Hilo, Hilo Puainako, Keauhou and Kailua-Kona town until Dec. 24.
The Salvation Army also is in need of more gifts and donations for this year’s Angel Tree program.
The physical Angel Trees are located in the Walmart stores in Hilo and Kailua-Kona. They are decorated with paper tags with a first name, age and gender of a keiki or kupuna in need.
Donors can select one or more tags from the Angel Tree and purchase the appropriate gifts for the child or senior described on the tags. The gifts are returned to the tree where the tags were pulled from.
The Hilo branch is in need of donors for about 120 remaining tags for the Angel Tree.
Because of the pandemic, there are now several ways to support the Angel Tree program.
For those who prefer to shop online, donors can visit AngelTreeHI.org to either shop for gifts, make monetary donations or create personalized Online Angel Tree fundraisers.
“Shopping online for gifts will help us fill our needs and make sure we can get enough gifts for the children on our list,” Lt. Bratton said. “We are mostly in need of gifts for older boys and girls ages 9 to 12.”
Gifts bought online must be purchased by Wednesday, Dec. 16, and gifts bought in person must be dropped off at the Hilo Salvation Army or Walmart no later than Dec. 18.