By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer
Salvation Army ringers across the country are being armed with a bell, a kettle, sometimes a Santa hat and now a mobile credit card machine.
Clovis Salvation Army Maj. Tammy Ray said New Mexico’s fickle weather is causing trouble for Clovis’ ringers as far as adding the machine to their list of equipment.
“We do take credit and debit card donations over the phone or in the office,” Ray said. “We just won’t be adding that capability to the ringers.”
Ray said ringers in Clovis are usually outside, meaning they are at the mercy of the weather.
“When you’re trying to hang on to the kettle and the wind is blowing, a credit card machine isn’t the easiest thing to handle,” she said.
Ray said ringers with mobile card machines are stationed indoors at venues like malls. She said a limited number of machines were offered in the division, but the machines went to cities where ringers would be in protected places.
Ray said collecting funds has gotten complicated in recent years.
“We’re really down to four locations (for ringers) here in Clovis,” Ray said. “It’s become a greater challenge than ever to raise money the way we always have. We’re having to get more creative.”
Ray said they’re currently looking for businesses to allow them to place counter kettles inside.
“It looks like our kettle, it’s just smaller,” Ray said.
Ray said people are being more cautious about which agencies they donate to. Also, the economy is playing a factor.
“People often will give up their charitable giving before their personal entertainment. They’ll take care of their family first,” Ray said.
She said loyal donators from the baby boomer generation are dying off, which is also affecting donations.
“The baby boomers whose families were affected by the Salvation Army in the depression or something like that have always given to the Salvation Army,” Ray said. “Up and coming generations have not been brought up with their lives being affected by that.”