Out of spare change? No problem. The Salvation Army has gone high tech across the United States this year to make it easier for givers to give this holiday season.
As of Nov. 1, the 37 red kettles used locally for collecting donations on store counters and in front of area stores now contain a QR code that enables would-be contributors to access the internet on their cellphone or tablet to make a donation from their bank account or credit card using Apple Pay or Google Wallet digital wallet service.
“It’s the wave of the future,” said Major Dale Brandenburg, who heads the Hastings Salvation Army location. “Nobody carries money anymore, and this year the Salvation Army is just embracing that.”
If the idea doesn’t sound completely new, there’s a reason for that. Hastings Salvation Army kettles actually used this technology last year. But hardly anyone noticed.
“We experimented with it last year, but we didn’t really talk it up like we’re doing this year,” Brandenburg said. “We didn’t have the national exposure. This year it’s rolled out all across the U.S.
“We’re hoping with it being national and every Salvation Army doing it and every officer talking about it that we’ll have more success with it this year.”
Brandenburg manned the storefront kettle offering access to both digital wallet services and physical currency at his usual location in downtown Hastings during this year’s Celebration of Lights event Thursday evening. Area storefront kettles will appear Monday at Allen’s of Hastings, Russ’s Market, Walgreens, Big G Ace and Walmart Supercenter.
Volunteer bell ringers still are needed to tend the storefront kettles. And as with the kettles themselves, technology is available to help volunteers sign up online. Visitors to registertoring.com can simply type in their zip code to find the various kettle locations needing help and what time slots are available and sign up to fill them online.
“It shows what hours are open, what hours are filled, and you can take as many hours as you want,” Brandenburg said. “It’s not hard at all if you’re a techie and like doing things on your cellphone or computer.”
Based on previous years, Brandenburg said he is confident Hastings residents once again will make this year’s fundraising drive a success.The kettle drive is the Salvation Army’s primary fundraiser of the season.
“We’ve reached our goal the last four years because people here in Hastings have been so supportive of the Salvation Army,” he said. “We’re hoping this year this will make it easier for people to give and for us to reach our goal by having this new way of donating.”