CLEARWATER, Fla. — The bell ringing and red kettles outside stores signal it's the holiday season.
The Salvation Army knows even that is going to be a challenge this year. There's less foot traffic in shopping areas, so it's anticipating less income.
But, the need is greater than ever.
Today, Clearwater Marine Aquarium dolphins Winter and Hope helped kick off the Red Kettle campaign. They're also celebrating the largest kettle challenge match ever in the history of the Salvation Army of Clearwater and Upper Pinellas County.
It's needed, too.
Based on the increase in services because of the pandemic, the organization could serve up to 155 percent more people this year with Christmas help, putting food on the table, paying bills, providing shelter and helping put gifts under the tree.
"Among a lot of people that we work with, there's a sense of, almost a hopeless sense, we want to let them know there is hope and that there are agencies like the Salvation Army here to come alongside them and to help them get out of this situation," Major Ted Morris said.
In north Pinellas County alone, the Salvation Army served 46,391 people last year. If there is the same level of increased requests for service, that will mean nearly 70,000 people will need help this holiday season.
There are lots of ways you can help this holiday season.
The Salvation Army is always in need of financial support. You can accept the #RedKettleChallenge by creating a team to ring the bell virtually. Visit www.SalvatonArmyClearwater.org and click RED KETTLE CHALLENGE.
You can Adopt a Kettle to show the community how you are helping to Rescue Christmas by sponsoring a kettle for $500 a day at a kettle location of your choice.
You can also volunteer to ring bells or pick up an Angel Tree and buy a gift that goes to a child.
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