No cash? Now you can give to Salvation Army bell ringers with your smartphone

All 25,000 donation stations on street corners and storefronts are now equipped to accept Apple Pay and Google Pay.

By Jay Skebba / The Blade
Thu, 21 Nov 2019 17:02:59 GMT

The "Sorry, I don't have any cash" excuse will no longer fly at the Salvation Army's red kettles during the holiday season.

This year, all 25,000 donation stations on street corners and storefronts are equipped with smart chips and QR codes to allow shoppers to make cashless donations in seconds using their smartphones through Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Major Tom Duperree, commander of the Toledo Area Salvation Army, called it a "great breakthrough" for the organization.

"I've done the process myself and I was able to pull up the page," Mr. Duperree said. "You can tap your phone to the QR code for the Apple Pay, and for Google you just scan it against the reader. Within six seconds I pulled up the screen and got a receipt."

Mr. Duperree said the Salvation Army introduced credit card readers about 15 years ago but found the process to be slow and tedious. He believes the Apple and Google methods are much easier and more user-friendly.

Donors can choose from several pre-selected amounts or choose their own. Funds donated will remain local.

"One of the nice things about the Apple Pay and Google Pay programs is that the gift that's made goes to the Salvation Army community that's associated with the donor's zip code," Mr. Duperree said. "So if I'm traveling and I'm out in Nebraska or something, but I live in Toledo, the gift made in Nebraska will go to Toledo."

The 129th year of the Red Kettle Campaign will raise funds to provide toys for underserved children at Christmas, clothes and shelter for the homeless, and after school programs.

Mr. Duperree said the Toledo Area branch funds most of its annual budget during November and December.

"The money we raise helps not only at Christmastime, but that sustains us throughout the next calendar year," he said. "All year long the Salvation Army helps with rent and utility payments, prescriptions, clothing, and food. We help with character-building activities for all ages."

The red kettles started to appear Nov. 13 in small numbers. Big box stores like Sam's Club, Walmart, and Kroger allow them starting Black Friday. 

Mr. Duperree encourages people to donate what they can.

“There are so many neighbors in need and the Salvation Army is helping not just with the holidays, but all throughout the year we're serving the needs of those less fortunate and those caught in difficult financial situations,” he said. “Those gifts make an impact in the community in the lives of thousands of individuals. We encourage people to remember their neighbors in need as they pass by the kettles.”

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