Giving at a red kettle does not require you to carry cash this season. This Christmas season, every red kettle stand in Mankato will be equipped with QR codes, Apple Pay and Google Pay, allowing donors to simply “bump” or scan with their phones to make a digital donation and/or text “KatoCares” to 24365 to give electronically.

The Salvation Army will use all donations to provide food, clothing, shelter, family mentoring, spiritual care and other critical services for people in need. Funds will be distributed to local Salvation Army units based on the donor’s billing ZIP code and an email receipt will be sent directly to them.

The Salvation Army will be kicking off its holiday fundraising campaign on Monday, November 23rd, online donations are being taken now.

“We are excited about the new giving opportunities these digital donations will provide for The Salvation Army and our iconic red kettles,” said Lt. Andy Wheeler, leader of The Salvation Army, Mankato. “This technology allows The Salvation Army and our supporters to adapt to an increasingly cashless society.” 

In addition to giving at a red kettle, you can also help people in need by becoming a bell ringer. Just two volunteer hours at a kettle raises an average of $60 for local Salvation Army services. Sign up to bell ring now at or call Leslie Johnson at 507.344.9261 for assistance. The Salvation Army is requiring all volunteers to wear an approved mask, winter or disposable gloves, socially distance and to use hand sanitizer when appropriate.  “This year, we are providing each ringer with a ‘disposable’ apron for them to keep for their personal collection or dispose of upon completion of their shift,” said Wheeler.

With the COVID-19 pandemic canceling holiday events and leading to retail closures, the nonprofit will have fewer red kettles out this winter and expects less foot traffic — a combination of challenges that will likely drop donations by nearly half the usual amount. “We’re going to need everybody’s help to meet those needs,” said Lt. Andy Wheeler. The Mankato organization relies on year-end giving to bring in nearly two-thirds of its annual revenue and aims to raise $500 thousand between now and the end of 2020.

The first red kettle appeared in San Francisco in 1891 when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee placed an iron pot on the boat docks and asked people to toss in coins to help the poor. He then placed a kettle on the street asking people to “Keep the Pot Boiling” and soon he had collected enough money to feed 1,000 people on Christmas Day. The red kettle went on to become a staple throughout the United States and in cities across the world. 

Thousands of hardworking families are battling poverty in Minnesota and North Dakota. You can help them win by donating $25 a month or becoming a bell ringer.