Saturday, November 22, 2008

Salvation Army Credit Card Kettle

Since 1891, the Salvation Army and their Army of bell ringers have been collecting donations in a kettle. It is a Christmas tradition to hear the sound of ringing bells at the entrance to all of your Christmas shopping destinations. This year however, you may notice a small change in the tradition.

Not having cash is no longer a valid excuse for avoiding eye contact with the bell ringer. This year, a pilot program in several locations will allow donors to use their debit and credit cards to make their donations.

Mike Smith, who oversees kettle-based donations for the El Paso chapter, says one reason for the experiment is due to an increasing number of people carrying plastic instead of cash. Smith also cites slowing donations, which have decreased by 10 percent, and a 25 percent increase in demand for charitable services this year because of economic troubles.

"We're seeing people from middle-class neighborhoods who didn't used to need help now needing food, rent and utility assistance to get back on their feet," he told the Colorado Springs Gazette.

The locations where debit and credit card transactions are accepted will change during the campaign, which run until Dec. 24. U.S. Bank will oversee the transactions to monitor their security.

Some Salvation Army red kettle locations also accept used gift cards with balances for donations. The charity collects the cards, which can be from any retail store, and sends them to a Californian company that converts the balance into cash. If a location isn't handy, gift cards can be donated online too.

What do you think about this change? Is this taking technology too far or is this just the way things are done in 2008?

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