A woman places a donation in the Salvation Army’s red kettle during the holidays.


One of the oldest and largest charitable campaigns in the country will make a 21st-century update this year.

Shoppers strolling past the Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles and persistent jingling bells can donate with a tap of their phones if they don’t want to dig the cash out of their pockets.

The Salvation Army is rolling out Kettle Pay nationwide, which allows shoppers to make donations at the kettles with Google or Apple Pay apps, according to a news release.

Shoppers also can take a photo of a QR code on red kettle signs and be directed to a donation website, according to the release.

Kettle Pay donations will be given to the Salvation Army corps nearest to the shopper’s billing address ZIP code, said Patrice Gabower of the Rock County Salvation Army.

That means Rock County residents vacationing in Florida or visiting family in Ohio can still help their community from many states away, she said.

The Salvation Army won’t know the impact of Kettle Pay until after the inaugural campaign, Gabower said.

However, Salvation Army officials believe this could boost donations because fewer people carry cash than ever before, she said.

The red kettle campaign will kick off in Janesville at 10 a.m. Nov. 15 at Maurer’s Market, 2822 E. Milwaukee St. Maj. Tom McDowell will announce the goal at the kickoff, where Santa Claus will make an appearance.

As of now, the Rock County Salvation Army has about a quarter of its 6,200 bell-ringer slots filled, Gabower said.

Last year, 40% of bell-ringer slots were filled. Gabower said more bell ringers means more donations to help local programs such as the food pantry, temporary housing and the toy drive.

To make up for lost spots at Shopko and Sears, the Salvation Army will have bell ringers at Basics Co-op on Tuesdays and Saturdays, Gabower said.

To volunteer, visit registertoring.com or call 608-757-8300.