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Silver Bells And Red Kettles

Salvation Army USA West

They’re a familiar sight; people ringing bells and standing next to red kettles, asking for donations to the Salvation Army. However, donations and volunteers are down this year. Allegheny County is currently $35,000 behind where it was last year. To find out the reason for this shortage, Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer talked with Major Debra Sedlar, District Commander for the Salvation Army of Western Pennsylvania division.

Sedlar placed blame on the low donations due to Pittsburgh’s weather. The city has been experiencing an unusually warm winter so far, and while many may enjoy the balmy temperatures, it makes the charity’s job that much harder.

“It’s easy to feel sorry for the person standing by the kettle when it’s very, very cold out,” Sedlar said. “But sometimes, when it’s warmer, we just forget.”

The neighborhoods experiencing the biggest shortage on contributions are Homewood, Homestead, Steel Valley and Braddock, according to Sedlar. The source of the donation is important, as the Salvation Army uses money toward neighborhood in which it was donated.

However, there is hope. Sedlar revealed that the last few days leading up to Christmas are often the most profitable for the Salvation Army, as people rush to get the last of their Christmas shopping done. While the Pittsburgh division has not seen a large donation dropped in a kettle yet, they often happen during these last few days.

Sedlar did not know of a specific reason for the shortage of volunteers, though she suspects people might just be busier than they were in previous years. While she is trying to make sure every kettle is manned until Christmas, she said that online donations are also accepted. The organization has promoted online donations for three years, but unfortunately has not seen the growth they expected.

“Online giving is an option and it certainly is a convenient option for many people,” Sedlar said. “As more people begin to use the internet and use the internet for purchases and things of that nature, it becomes a little more comfortable.”

Donations can be made on the Salvation Army’s website.  If you wish to volunteer for kettling duty, call 412-446-1500.

The photo above was shared by the Salvation Army USA West. More Essential Pittsburgh can be heard here.