Salvation Army starts annual Red Kettle campaign early

Posted at 10:15 AM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-16 22:04:38-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Salvation Army's annual Red Kettle campaign is kicking off Tuesday.

Because so many people were hit hard by the pandemic, the Salvation Army is starting the campaign two weeks early.

The organization says its goal this year is to provide Christmas gifts to 5,000 children and 75,000 meals during this holiday season here in Southern Nevada and the generosity of the Las Vegas community makes it possible to assist families and children despite the pandemic.

Salvation Army representatives started raising funds at the Bass Pro Shops at the Silverton hotel-casino Tuesday afternoon.

Anita Murray has been ringing the bell for six years and says she loves every minute of it.

"I love it. I get a lot of pleasure out of seeing, especially the kids, when they come and put some change in the bucket and they're so excited, it gives me a lot of pleasure," said Murray.

Many were happy to drop a donation into Anita's kettle today, even though some wondering why they were being asked so early in the season.

"Some people say, 'well it's not even Thanksgiving.' I tell them, 'Well, we help with rental assistance, food assistance, many other things. And because of the pandemic, it's been really hard. So, we need to recoup money to give everybody a good holiday season,' and that's what we try to do," said Murray.

Anthony Barnes, a county coordinator for the Salvation Army, says a few factors led them to start two weeks early this year, including a short staff and increased need for assistance because of COVID-19.

"We're short on volunteers and staff, the ability to have people out. There's some people that are very hesitant to come out still. The pandemic, although vaccinations and things like that are very available, there are some people that are still very protective, and I can understand that. So we make the adjustments to do what we can to meet the needs of the families in the community. The need has increased, even from last year to this year, about 7-10%. We're seeing an increase, people coming in saying, 'we need help with one thing or another.' As we collect that money, it's not used just during the season, it's used all year long. And we help people that just need to help make ends meet. Maybe they're trying to collect a little bit extra to make that rent or the utilities. Some people are dealing with food insecurity. We want to make sure they have food on their table and that their family can sit around the table and create those moments that matter," said Barnes.

This year, the Salvation Army is making it easier than ever to make a donation.

"We have QR codes, we've got the NFC tags. You can tap your phone right against the sign and make a donation from your phone, or the traditional way that people are accustomed to, putting a dollar or some coins into the kettle," said Barnes.

Those interested in donating can also text LVChristmas to 51555 to donate or click this link.