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Shoppers won’t need cash to donate to the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign this year. Scan codes will allow them to chip in on their smart phones.

Even the Red Kettle isn’t immune from changing times.

With fewer shoppers carrying cash, the Salvation Army is adding a new wrinkle to its annual charitable fundraising campaign this season. For the first time, shoppers can donate with Apple Pay or Google Pay.

The Salvation Army will place smart chips and QR codes on Red Kettle signs at all 32 of its donation sites in Charlotte and DeSoto counties, according to Salvation Army Port Charlotte Capt. Israel Roseno.

All you have to do is “bump” or scan your phone to make a donation.

“Shoppers will be directed to a custom donation page that accepts Apple or Google payment options,” Roseno stated in a press release. “The funds will then be distributed to local Salvation Army units based on the donor’s billing ZIP code, and an email receipt will be sent directly to their phone.”

The Salvation Army helps an estimated 30 million people each year. Now in its 129th year, the annual Red Kettle Campaign is the oldest charitable fundraiser of its kind in the United States, and one of the oldest in the world.

“Kettle Pay makes it even easier for donors to join the Salvation Army’s Fight for Good,” Roseno said. “It provides an opportunity for people to fight for the millions of Americans experiencing poverty by raising money for Salvation Army programs in their communities, including food for the hungry, utility assistance and Christmas assistance for families in need.”

The campaign accounts for about one-third of the Salvation Army’s end-of-year fundraising. However, Red Kettle donations have slipped nationwide, falling from $144.5 million in 2017 to $142.7 million last year. Salvation Army officials blamed the decline on fewer people making cash purchases, as well as online sales reducing retail foot traffic, according to a CBS News article from December 2018.

Locally, Red Kettle donations were steady the last couple of years, according to Roseno, but he expects a decline this year due to Thanksgiving falling later in the month.

“We are thankful that most stores allow us to ring bells from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve,” he told the Sun by email, “but a late Thanksgiving results in a shorter season.”

The bells will start ringing at Winn-Dixie locations starting on Nov. 18, and at Walmart, Sam’s Club and Publix locations starting on Nov. 29.

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