The Salvation Army has started its Christmas fundraising campaign early across the country, and the organization said the purpose is to “rescue Christmas.”   The agency said the funds through the annual Red Kettle Drive this year are at risk because of the COVID-19 pandemic, while requests for services are at an all time high.

The Salvation Army in Sedgwick County fell short of its goal last year, even though donations were up by 11 percent.   The City Commander for Wichita, Major James Curl, said there is a need to raise this year’s goal to $1.5 million.   He said requests for utility assistance are up 300 percent and food requests are almost 200 percent higher this year.

The Salvation Army has announced a partnership with Walmart for the Angel Tree program and through December 31st, Walmart customers will be asked to round their purchases up to the nearest dollar to help support Salvation Army programs.    There is an online registry at www.WalmartAngelTree.org

The agency will follow safety protocols with the bell ringers at Red Kettle locations, and there will be a digital donation option with a QR code posted at all locations in Sedgwick County.