BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – The Salvation Army’s red kettle has become a holiday staple, but the organization fears the tradition may be losing traction as the retail landscape changes.
More than $850,000 was raised through red kettles last year in Maine. This year they hope to raise just over $815,000. It is a goal they fear might be harder to reach.
"It gets cold sometimes but I just love doing this,” bell ringer Lucien Michaud said outside a storefront in Bangor Tuesday.
Michaud is one of thousands of people across the country braving the cold to collect donations this time of year.
A number of brick and mortar stores in the area closed their doors since last year, making it even harder to get those kettles out.
"As much as we love it, as much as it's an important part of people's Christmas experience, we also understand that people don't give the way they used to,” Captain Rebecca Kirk said.
Kirk said the closure of stores combined with more retailers refusing to let them setup shop has made it difficult. The organization raised nearly $23,000 at the now closed Kmart and Macy’s locations in Bangor.
"The idea that the economy changes that retail landscape changes that all over our state and probably nationally are experiencing,” she said.
Last year the group tried to utilize credit card machines at certain locations. Kirk said that did not do as well as they had hoped either. Now, they are trying to get more people to give online.
"I'll tell them 'Oh I can see that $100 bill right there!' and that entices them,” Michaud said.
Still, the classic ringing bell and the caring people like Michaud behind it are working hard to pull in what they can.
To see how you can give online click here.