LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — There's no end in sight to the pandemic, so we all may be looking toward a better year in 2021.
However, before we reach the new year, there's the holiday season. With higher unemployment and economic unrest, more families may be needing help.
Black Friday marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. A time marked by packed parking lots, long lines, and the Salvation Army bell ringers.
Major Bill Garrett says you'll still see them this year despite the pandemic.
"People are going to be wearing masks when you see them after Thanksgiving. The stand will be wiped down after people make donations, it'll be sprayed off," said Major Garrett.
As with anything in 2020, it's going to be different.
October and November usually mean big kickoff events with people and shared food.
"Obviously, a large-scale event wouldn't be a good idea this year," said Major Garrett.
With an expected 150% increase in families needing assistance this year, Major Garrett says planning and staying visible will be key. Especially with more people avoiding stores and shopping online.
"This Christmas is going to be different. But that doesn't mean that this Christmas, we can't help people," said Major Garrett.
Operation Rescue Christmas is already underway.
Last year, the Angel Tree program provided presents under the tree for 4,000 families in the Lexington area. That number is expected to double this year.
"Whatever that increase is, we're going to find ways to make that happen," said Major Garrett.
Pickup for families will also be different in a pandemic, but there's a plan for that too.
"They won't be coming inside anymore; we're already working out logistics for a drive-thru pickup system which minimizes, once again, contact. And therefore, whatever the restrictions may or may not be, we can do this safely," said Major Garrett.
Innovations also provide more ways to donate, either online or in-person, with Kettle Pay, which means no direct contact.
"Salvation Army has worked out something with Amazon. So you can say 'hey Alexa, give to the Salvation Army,'" said Major Garrett.