Salvation Army red kettles this year will accept Apple Pay...

Salvation Army red kettles this year will accept Apple Pay and Google Pay, allowing people to donate with a tap of their smartphones. Credit: TNS/Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune

As divisional commander for The Salvation Army of Greater New York, I strive to fulfill the calling to meet people’s needs wherever, whenever, and however we are needed across the region, including New York City and Long Island.

For more than 140 years, The Salvation Army has served those in need, and this calling has not stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, we doubled our services to provide hope and healing for our men, women, and children in need. We know that for many families on Long Island dealing with unemployment, child care challenges, food insecurity, and the inability to pay bills, in addition to the ramifications of the pandemic, this Christmas season will be extremely challenging.

Since mid-March, The Salvation Army, the nation’s largest social services provider, has worked with more than 9,000 volunteers in the New York region to serve over half a million people. Together, we have supplied more than five million meals, compared to the 3.5 million meals served in all of 2019. We also have provided shelter for thousands and made nearly 30,000 care calls.

Since its founding, The Salvation Army has been committed to showing up amid disasters to bring relief and restoration — such as immediately after the 9/11 terror attacks and when superstorm Sandy hit the region. We have approached COVID-19 in the same way, unifying officers, staff and volunteers to bring hope amid strife to those who need help.

The Salvation Army’s well-known Red Kettle Campaign, which helps us fulfill our mission of meeting human need without discrimination, typically begins after Thanksgiving. Knowing that we face an unprecedented demand, with extraordinary need combined with fewer kettle locations and less foot traffic due to COVID-19, The Salvation Army kicked off its annual Red Kettle campaign last month — the earliest it has ever started. And we are finding ways to bring the New York region together to ensure that children have gifts and families have food, clothing, and other essentials this holiday season. We named our efforts this year Rescue Christmas because so many families will need their Christmases rescued this year.

Help us do the most good for New Yorkers in need. Through The Salvation Army, you can support programs such as Adopt-a-Family, toy drives, Thanksgiving and Christmas hot meals and food baskets, and winter gear for youth and adults. You can also volunteer and donate by saying "Alexa, donate to The Salvation Army," or text "GIVENYC" to 41444.

Everyone is critical in the fight against poverty — and the devastation of this pandemic. The need is greater than ever, so please help your community by helping The Salvation Army Rescue Christmas.

Credit: Credit Salvation Army of Greater New York

Lt. Col. Ricardo Fernandez is the divisional commander for The Salvation Army of Greater New York.


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