(WXYZ) — The Salvation Army has kicked off its annual Red Kettle campaign in metro Detroit.
The giant red kettle is now in place at Cadillac Square in downtown Detroit.
For our 7 UpFront segment tonight, we're being joined by Salvation Army Colonel John Turner to talk about the campaign and why it's critical this year to collect funds during the pandemic.
"We have seen an increase in need over these months of the pandemic, with about a 10% increase, and already we were doing about 2.5 million meals a year and 580,000 nights of shelter," Turner says. "And last year we gave about 167,000 Christmas toys, gifts to children and what we've seen so far in the year with this pandemic is an increase and we can just only speculate and feel that the increase is going to go right into the Christmas season and beyond. So it's important for us to raise the goal that we have set, $8 million. it's the same as last year, but we fell just a little bit short last year but we really need to hit it now because the need is so much greater now."
However, Turner says this year's campaign will look a little different.
"The difference in the campaign is really the steps we are taking to ensure everybody's safety," he says. "The kettles are going out next Friday, on the 13th, the kettle will start hitting the street and more will go out the weekend before Thanksgiving and then, even more, the day after Thanksgiving it will be up to full speed on the kettles. But there could still be a little bit of fear about going to a kettle and making a donation, though we're taking precautions. The bell ringers will have masks, they'll have hand sanitizer and PPE there to wipe down the kettle after a donation and stand six feet away so the kettle is completely clear so a person can come up and not get more than six feet from the bell ringer."
He also talked about how they're changing things for donors.
"On the donor side, there's also ways to give where you don't actually have to put money in the kettle," Turner says. "You can use your cell phone in a couple of ways. There's a QR code on the kettle stands. You can just scan that and go to Apple Pay or Google Pay, go to any of those devices that you can use to make payments. You can also bump the phone. There's a little sensor in the kettle stand that will launch the site for you so you can make a donation. You can actually make a donation without actually touching a kettle this year."
You can also text your donation to the Salvation Army.
"You can text Gift to 24365, you can think of that as 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," Turner says. "You can also visit SalMich.org and make a donation, call 877-SALMICH, and you can also be a virtual bell ringer without ever being by a kettle. You can sign up and be a host of a virtual kettle, you can share it with your social media and drive your friends and colleagues to make a donation on your site. It will go right to the Salvation Army's site and make the donation and you can do that all at registertoring.com."
You can see the entire interview in the video player above.