The Sunshine Project is underwritten by grants from the Endowment for Health, New Hampshire’s largest health foundation, and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

LACONIA — At local nonprofit organizations that serve human needs, donations are down and calls for help are louder and more frequent, compared to this time last year. COVID-19 slashed paychecks, profits, and jobs and destabilized food and shelter for many families, including people who had never before asked for assistance.

“During this Christmas season, the need is greater,” said Capt. Mike Davis, head of the Laconia Salvation Army. “We’re hoping people are going to give more because of the need during COVID. That’s our hope and prayer.”

The Salvation Army is predicting a growth of 155% in need in Northern New England over last year. This year, its campaigns for contributions are starting earlier and taking new forms, as part of a campaign called Rescue Christmas.

This season, mask-clad bellringers will stand back from kettles to allow socially distanced donors to contribute by cash or cash-free methods. Kettles will be equipped with Google Pay and Apple Pay scans, permitting credit card donations by cell phone.

Donors can also give by texting KETTLES to 91999, giving physical gifts in bulk or cash or check donations at the Salvation Army’s main building on Union Ave, providing a sustaining $25 monthly gift at Salvation Army, or asking Amazon Alexa to donate to the Salvation Army, then specifying the amount.  The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program allows donors to adopt Angels to give hope and joy to needy children and families.  Donors can also follow on Twitter @Salvation ArmyUS and #DoingThe MostGood.

The contributions will be tallied and allocated by zip codes, with 100 percent of local funds coming to the Salvation Army in Laconia, underwriting costs of operations and programs for the upcoming year.  The headquarters in Laconia serves people in Gilford and Laconia, and connects others throughout the region with Salvation Army representatives that serve surrounding towns.

The monies collected go to the soup kitchen and pantry and the Carey House homeless shelter, which are also supported by proceeds from the Salvation Army’s Thrift Store on New Salem Street, where residents of Carey House volunteer and receive skills training and work experience.

“Our mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus, ad to meet human needs in his name, without discrimination,” said Davis. “We can always use volunteers. The more donations we have, the more people we can serve.”

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