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COVID-19 closes down Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles in NM

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

This scene won’t be seen in New Mexico this year. The Salvation Army decided to pull its red kettles from outside of stores. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

At a time when requests for services are at an all-time high, the Salvation Army has made the difficult decision to remove its iconic red kettles from in front of stores across New Mexico.

Not surprisingly, the decision was made as a precaution to avoid possible exposure and transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

“This was not an easy decision, but the health and safety of our clients, officers, staff, volunteers, and all New Mexicans is of the highest priority,” Lt. Col. Kelly Pontsler, commander of the Salvation Army Southwest Division, said in a news release.

Because of the pandemic, the Salvation Army had already estimated that red kettle donations might be down 50% from last year. At the same time, also because of the pandemic, the organization is expecting a 155% increase in the number of people who will need the Salvation Army’s services.

In an attempt to “rescue Christmas,” Pontsler is asking that New Mexicans continue to make donations, though via the more sterile online environment.

Donations can be made at or by texting RedKettles to 51555.

Red kettle donations normally make up more than 20% of the gifts made to the Salvation Army in New Mexico.

Nearly 125,000 New Mexicans each year rely on the Salvation Army for food, shelter, clothing, and rent and utility assistance.

Nationwide, the Salvation Army provides relief to more than 23 million Americans through 7,600 centers of operation. About 82 cents of every donated dollar is used to support Salvation Army social services.

On Wednesday, United Supermarkets, the parent company of Albertsons, presented a check for $47,748 to the Salvation Army Southwest Division. The money was collected during a fundraising campaign in Albertsons stores throughout New Mexico, in which customers at the checkout register could add a donation earmarked for the Salvation Army.

Salvation Army spokesman Eric Schoen said he was “eternally grateful to Albertsons for their generous donation,” which will be used to help offset the losses from the removal of the red kettles.

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