No cash? No problem: Some Salvation Army Kettles in N.L. now taking debit

If you don't carry cash, you still have a chance to donate to a Salvation Army Christmas kettle this year.

That's because some kettle locations, including one in the Avalon Mall in St. John's, now accept debit as a form of payment.

"It will be evaluated. We will look at it, and next year, depending on how well this machine does this year, you could see this up at multiple locations in the St. John's area," said Maj. Rene Loveless of the Salvation Army in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"This may be the way of the future. We're not sure."

The Christian charity organization is testing the new feature out at some spots in N.L. as its annual Christmas Kettle campaign — which sees volunteers accept donations for the Salvation Army in public spaces across the province — begins again.

The money is dropped into a transparent pot or "kettle" though this year, electronic donations are also an option thanks to debit machines.

Although it's a first for St. John's, accepting debit donations has proven to be a success in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

"They raised between three and four thousand dollars through using the debit machine last year," said Loveless. There are three donation kettles in the area, with volunteers now welcoming digital payment for a second year.

Marystown and Bay Roberts are testing out the machines for their first time.

Many people are coming up to the kettle and they're saying, 'I got no cash in my pocket, I wish you people had tap.' - Gerald Fifield

Loveless says that every location is welcome to use a machine, but that many are passing on the idea. In the 15 kettles across St. John's, the Avalon Mall is so far the only one to accept anything other than cash.

"It's a time when many people don't carry cash anymore. But having said that, the kettle campaign has been very successful over the years just depending on cash donations. But having this option, we believe, might make the campaign even more successful," he said.

They'll need that success if they're to meet this year's donation target.

"Our target this year, for the province, is to raise $720,000. We do believe it's possible, but only with the generosity of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians."

A cashless society

Eddy Kennedy/CBC

In Corner Brook, the target is $75,000. 

So far, they've only raised a little over $24,000 — and Maj. Frank Pittman says having a debit machine could improve the state of things.

"I think it's certainly dropped a little bit over the years, and that's something that we're looking at... trying to figure out how we can add the debit machine to the Christmas kettles," he said.

"Our aim is for next year to have at least one trial and see how that works."

Gerald Fifield, the kettle co-ordinator in the area, said he understands the dilemma.

"Many people are coming up to the kettle and they're saying, 'I got no cash in my pocket, I wish you people had tap,'" he said.

"I'm guilty too. I don't carry very much cash in my pockets."

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