WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — For the first time in 130 years, the Salvation Army has started its annual red kettle fundraising early this year.

“We need literally thousands of volunteers to make it happen, that’s what makes the Salvation Army effective in what we do its the army behind the army that makes it work so volunteers is the key, if we can muster the volunteers we can rescue Christmas,” said Salvation Army Wichita Commander, Jim Curl.

The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction and economic hardships. They provide food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need

“The Salvation Army has seen an increase in assistance requests that has been beyond remembrance. With a 300% increase in utility assistance, nearly 200% increase of food requests, we are amazed at the need from families who have never been in need before,” said Commander Curl.

The funds raised through red kettles are at risk due to COVID-19 as many stores are anticipating to see a decline in shoppers this year because of the virus. The organization now allows those who want to donate to scan a QR code to make a donation at each red kettle location if you don’t have cash.

The organization has made several changes, now donors can go online to give a donation and the organization has also taken its Christmas Angel Tree virtual. Donors can select an angel from the tree to purchase Christmas gifts for those in need.

The organization has faced a number of challenges, including a decline in volunteers.

“We need literally thousands of volunteers to make it happen, that’s what makes the Salvation Army effective in what we do its the army behind the army that makes it work so volunteers is the key, if we can muster the volunteers, we can rescue Christmas,” said Commander Curl.

For more information on how you can volunteer click here, or to make a donation, click here.

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