It has been a difficult year for charitable causes all over, as fundraising efforts had to be cancelled and altered according to the rules of the regions they are run in and people’s habits changed as they adapted to the pandemic.
This is the case in New York with the Red Kettle Campaign for the Salvation Army. “This year we have far fewer kettles out, combined with lower foot traffic,” said Rebecca Smith, who runs the Salvation Army’s fundraising department for Greater New York, of the lack of tourists and office workers in Manhattan.
The organization started the annual Red Kettle drive in 1891 as a way to raise money for meals for the homeless on Christmas Eve. The Salvation Army normally serves about 3.5 million meals to New Yorkers every year, but that number jumped to 6.5 million meals in the wake of the pandemic.
Donations to the iconic campaign are down 35% this year, while need for the funds is up some 150%, making for a bad combination.
Even the biggest kettle in the world, an aluminum monster standing at 32 feet tall and 16 feet wide, made by Tim Hayes, hasn’t been getting the usual number of donations. But one donation made was notable for not only the amount, but the reason and the message that came with it.
Tim was working at the kettle on December 7th outside the Meatpacking District Apple store, ringing his bell and thanking those who stopped to make a donation when an individual described as a gray-haired “typical New Yorker” in his 40’s or 50’s handed over an envelope and wished Tim a “Merry Christmas”.
What was in the envelope has made the Salvation Army interested in finding the man and thank him. It was a donation of $1,020.00, a mask, and a note.
The Note read: “Dear Salvation Army, I walked into the Apple Store today to buy a new phone. Then I saw your kettle and I was reminded of those in need. It was very cold and windy outside. I am lucky I have a warm home. I have hot food. I even have an iPhone from 2017 that works perfectly well. 2020 has been a hard year for millions of families . . . The iPhone was going to be $999. I also planned to visit Starbucks next door. I should go without both this Christmas season. Please accept this $1,020 and put it to better use. P.S. here is a new mask my wife made for a friend. I consider Salvation Army a friend to New York.”
“I thought it was fantastic,” Hayes said. “That’s one of the magical things about New York — there are people who do that.”
According to Smith this donation “will provide 430 meals. That’s a lot of bellies that are going to be full because of his generosity.”
She’s seen a lot of “interesting” contributions come in through the kettles over the years, including wedding rings and gold nuggets. “But this was such a touching note. We were nearly brought to tears,” said Smith, adding that the donations also help buy gifts for homeless children. “It’s such a generous gift in such a difficult year. We’re so, so grateful.”
It’s your Good News Story of the Day which you can read about in full here. It also has inspired the Salvation Army to hope to find the donor and thank them. They would also like to see Apple respond to the gesture by matching the donation, encourage customers to donate, or even give the man the new phone he gave up.
Added Hayes: “I‘m really happy the big kettle is doing what it was intended to do — inspire people — and I hope it inspires others.”
Story and Image from NY Post.