SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – “When you hear this very familiar bell, that can get on people’s nerves if you hear it too much. I want people to remember this is us sounding the alarm to ask for your help in our effort to rescue Christmas,” Major Matthew Madsen said. 

Families are in need this year more than ever — Between the wildfires, the pandemic, and the subsequent job losses.

The Salvation Army says for the first time in 130 years, they are going to start their annual holiday fundraising campaign early in order to “rescue Christmas.”

They’re going to have to do more with less.

It’s a familiar sight outside malls and grocery stores every holiday season, but this year, there will be less bell ringing with retail stores closing, less foot traffic and more people carrying plastic than cash. 

The Salvation Army says they could see up to a 50-percent decrease in funds through red kettles in 2020 but they’re expecting to serve up to 155-percent more people because of the coronavirus pandemic, job loss, and the wildfires.

“We want to make sure people are protected and we want to make sure people are cared for,” Madsen said. 

Since March, the Salvation Army has provided more than 100 million meals, 170,000 of those were served in San Francisco.

They do not expect that need to slow down any time soon and are working now to “rescue Christmas” by starting their annual holiday fundraising campaign early to help pay for food, bills, shelter, and presents this year.

“We’ve already had a lot of people already tell us we are dreading the fact that we may be looking at in a couple of months having to decide do we pay to keep the electric on or do we get our kids a gift?” Madsen said. 

Cash and coins will still be accepted, but the Salvation Army understands they will have to do more with less and they’re getting creative.

To donate, you can now use Apple or Google Pay at any red kettle. You can also use Alexa or text a donation on your phone.

“I gotta say its been a long year for us but we are not done yet and we know the need is going to be even greater this year so we are preparing for a very difficult but rewarding end of the year,” Madsen said.

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