It’s a century-old holiday tradition that is struggling during the pandemic. Sergeant Anthony Rivera of the Stamford Salvation Army Corps says the organization usually has nine bell ringers throughout the city, but this year it has only three.
“I had one or two people pretty faithful every year to be a bell ringer, and they opted out because they were worried,” said Rivera.
The pandemic not only has affected people’s willingness to volunteer as bell ringers. Some stores will not allow them outside their doors this year. Rivera says it will be much harder for the organization to reach its $35,000 goal between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In addition, he says some people are wary about having to get close enough to put cash in the bucket. Rivera hopes people will try out new ways to donate.
“If you don’t feel that safe to donate going to the kettle and putting a dollar in, you can donate right there from your phone,” said Rivera. “There is a tag where you can tap your phone on that tag where it will throw you to a link to donate.”
Even as fundraising is threatened, Rivera says the need for aid from the Salvation Army has doubled.
Aside from helping provide toys this holiday season, the Stamford corps is helping with food assistance and diapers for those hardest hit by the economic effects of the pandemic.