MUSCATINE, Iowa — The familiar sound of ringing bells and the familiar sight of red kettles outside storefronts are reminders of a mission that still needs some help.
"Kettles are down all across the country," Lt. Greg Bock, with the Muscatine County Salvation Army.
Bock said 2020 has been a challenge for the annual red kettle campaign.
"Earlier this week I sent an email to my board and I said we are at 25 percent of our goal," Bock said.
The virtual kettles online have their own challenges, too, Bock said.
"Who’s to say that people scrolling their Facebook feeds or Instagram feeds or Twitter feeds at home at night from their comfy couch with their fireplace going, watching TV, they’re gonna click the link and donate," Bock said.
Thankfully, the Muscatine Salvation Army had some help Thursday night.
"We know with COVID-19 there's been a whole lot different economic impact on families," said Muscatine County Sheriff C.J. Ryan. "Some moms and dads may be out of work, they may need a little bit of extra help this year."
The Muscatine County Sheriff's Office organized and donated 75 bikes, along with new toys, to the Salvation Army's "Toy Time" drive, which is part of Two Weeks of Love.
"We call them virtual bell ringers," Bock said.
The new bikes filled the showroom floor at Krieger's in Muscatine, who volunteered the space as the donation location.
The donation also filled hearts.
"It's just a feeling you can't get by doing anything else," Bock said. "The pandemic has changed the way we live, but what it hasn't changed is how we care."
While 2020 has presented its challenges, the Muscatine community is still finding ways to add light this Christmas.
The Muscatine Police Department and Sheriff's Office are holding a competition between the two agencies to see who can raise the most money in their respective virtual red kettle.
If you'd like to donate to the Muscatine County Salvation Army's virtual kettle, you can find information on how to do that here.
To find a virtual kettle near you, visit this web page.
On Friday, December 4, the Muscatine Salvation Army is wrapping up its first week of Two Weeks of Love, their annual toy and food drive. 2020 is the 20th year of the two-week initiative.
The second week of Two Weeks of Love begins Monday, December 7, 2020. That week is titled, "Freezing for Food." You can donate pre-packaged food bags or other non-perishable food items.
There are two locations for "Freezing for Food" in Muscatine: the Hy-Vee on 2nd Avenue and the Fareway on Cedar Plaza Drive. "Freezing for Food" ends on December 11.