SAN ANTONIO — The Salvation Army said the need is greater than ever this year as families continue to struggle as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Since mid-March, when the pandemic hit, the Salvation Army has seen what can only be described as a tsunami of human need,” said Commissioner Kenneth Hodder, the national commander of the Salvation Army.
In San Antonio, the organization has helped families with over $300,00 in rental and utilities assistance since the start of the pandemic.
Hodder said nationally, the Salvation Army has served over 100 million meals, and provided 1.5 million more nights of shelter this year than in previous years.
“People are coming to us who had never imagined that they would need the services of the Salvation Army,” said Hodder.
As the holiday season approaches, the Salvation Army is needing assistance of their own.
“We anticipate about a 155 percent increase in the number of people coming to us for aid,” said Hodder.
That’s why the Salvation Army is on a mission to rescue Christmas.
“We do not want parents to face the dilemma of having to decide between paying the rent and providing a Christmas present for their child on Christmas Day,” said Hodder.
Last year, the organization’s Angel Tree program provided presents for over 8,000 children in San Antonio, and served close to 3,000 families, according to Salvation Army San Antonio.
They also made served over 500 senior citizens during the holiday season.
And now, the pandemic is threatening the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign.
Hodder said many of the stores that used to host the red kettles out front are closed or seeing less foot traffic. And, in addition to the many people still unemployed, it’s difficult to make even a small donation.
“We anticipate a decline in our Christmas kettle campaign of about 50 percent,” said Hodder.
According to Salvation Army San Antonio, they need to raise at least $500,000 in the Red Kettles to sustain “life changing programs,” including the Angel Tree program.
“We’re having to shift our approach this year in order to meet the need that we anticipate,” said Hodder.
Hodder said the Salvation Army isn’t going to allow the pandemic to steal Christmas.
They’ve created a website, RescueChristmas.org, to help bring in online donations and brighten the holiday season.
Families can also go to the website to volunteer or ask for help if needed.
Hodder said this year the need is greater than ever.
“We always believe that hope is greater than fear. That our ability to meet the challenges that we have it sufficient to the moment,” said Hodder.
“The people of San Antonio have always been very kind to the Salvation Army and we’re counting on that again this year,” he added.
The Angel Tree program will look a little different this year too. The Salvation Army San Antonio will be releasing more details soon.