As need increases during pandemic, nonprofit organizations struggling to find volunteers

Steven Seltz has rang the bell for The Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign for the last 30 years.

“The charity is just all that meaningful to me every year,” he told FOX 9 during an interview.

He has signed up for 210 hours this holiday season alone.

“I signed up back in September to be a bell ringer,” said Seltz. “I find myself doing it six days a week because I have the time […] and I like meeting the public.”

But the Salvation Army said they’re not many volunteers like him.

“We’re seeing about a 50 to 60 percent downturn in volunteers because of the pandemic,” said Major Scott Shelbourn, division secretary for the Salvation Army Northern Division in Minnesota.

The red kettle campaign is one of the Salvation Army’s largest fundraisers, accounting for 30% of total donations during the holiday season.

Major Shelbourn said volunteer signups are down, yet the demand for help with rent and food is up by more than 50% in some areas across the metro.

“That’s what really kind of breaks my heart and keeps me up at night is the need is so great we can’t meet it all,” said Major Shelbourn. “We’re doing our best to meet as many needs as possible that comes to our doors."

Other area nonprofits are feeling the strain as well.

“We’ve had to do what we want to do with a lot less people than what we need because of the fact that we’re trying to keep everybody safe,” said Anne Weinke, founder of Provision Community Kitchen.

Weinke prepares more than 100 meals a day with only two part-time employees and 12 volunteers.

“I don’t think we’re serving as many people as we could and we would love to be able to do that,” she added Nonprofits such as the Salvation Army and Provision Community Kitchen have switched to contactless donations to help people keep safe.

Provision Community Kitchen is accepting curbside food donations at its physical location at 2940 Harriet Avenue in Minneapolis.

Organizers said produce and meat products are items that are needed the most.

The Salvation Army is accepting donations through Google Pay, Apple Pay, and QR scanning codes at red kettle locations throughout the Twin Cities.

Donors can also text ‘RESCUE’ to 24365.