In this Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, photo, bell ringer Carolyn Harper encourages people to donate to the Salvation Army’s annual holiday red kettle campaign on Chicago's Magnificent Mile. (AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast)

Posted outside grocery stores and shopping malls donning their trademark red aprons, the Salvation Army’s bell ringers are a staple of the holiday season each year. However, the organization is facing a shortage of volunteers this year, a continuation of a pattern of shortages preceding the pandemic.

A shortage of bell ringers usually prompts a shortage of donations, which could prevent the organization’s individual divisions from reaching their target goals this year. Bell ringer shortages were exacerbated in 2020 and 2021, however, as the pandemic hindered much of the organization’s in-person volunteer work.

The organization kicked off its 132nd Red Kettle Campaign on Thanksgiving Day, during the halftime show of the football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. The Salvation Army has partnered with the Gene and Jerry Jones Foundation since 1997, generating over $3 billion together since the partnership’s start.

The theme for this year’s campaign is “Love Beyond,” encouraging the general public to love their neighbors beyond hardships and holidays in order to effectively assist those in need.
“This year, The Salvation Army is emphasizing that when we love beyond hunger, love beyond shelter, love beyond disasters, and love beyond Christmas, we can provide hope and help for millions who need it,” reads an October press release from the organization. “The Love Beyond campaign is a symbol of the help and hope that the millions who turn to The Salvation Army for assistance rely on not only during the holidays but also year-round.”

The Salvation Army’s Georgia Division has already raised over $30,000 through its virtual campaign alone, attempting to meet its goal of $100,000 before the season’s end. 
Volunteers can sign up to work individually or with a group on the Salvation Army’s website

The Salvation Army is also accepting “virtual” bell ringers, who accept monetary donations from their community without participating in person.