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Iconic Red Kettles Helping Those In Need Missing On Central, South Coasts Due To COVID-19

(KCLU photo)

An organization which helps those in need on the Central and South Coasts is being stretched to its limits this holiday season.  The Salvation Army is seeing unprecedented demand for food, clothing, and toys for families because of the impacts of COVID-19.  At the same time, donations are down because it hasn’t been able to deploy most of its signature red fundraising kettles as a result of the virus.

Cars, SUV’s, and vans are pulling into the parking lot of the Salvation Army in Santa Barbara. Volunteers are loading bags of food, clothing, and toys into the vehicles.

With the impacts of COVID-19 hitting many families hard financially this year, some are reaching out to the Salvation Army for help.

Major Jessyca Carr is with the Salvation Army in Santa Barbara.  She says they've gone from helping 50 families a week to 240 a day.

Carr says they’re hoping to make some holiday dreams come true through this all day drive through giveaway program.  But, she admits the Santa Barbara chapter of the non-profit needs it own little Christmas miracle this year.

Normally, there would be about 20 of the iconic Red Cross kettles outside of business in Southern Santa Barbara County this time of year.  But, COVID-19 changed that this year.  There are only four out in the region.  The target is to raise $50,000, but as of Tuesday they are only at about $12,000.

With just a few days left, the Salvation Army unit is hoping people will come through.  Carr says if they can’t raise the final $38,000 dollars in their holiday campaign, the shortfall will mean that after the first of the year, they will have to cancel their after school program for working parents.

Carr says they can only hope for the best, and just like the movie "Miracle on 34th Street," they dreaming of a "Miracle on Hollister Avenue." which is home to the Salvation Army in Santa Barbara.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.