Is prominent use of cards over cash hurting Red Kettle donations?

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG-WECP) -- It's a classic scene around the holiday times: volunteers ringing bells alongside their red kettles across the country. The Salvation Army Panama City will be collecting donations in their red kettles through Saturday, December 23.

But donations are off to a slow start this year.

Major Otis Childs with The Salvation Army says donations are running ten percent behind what they did last year. Though he doesn't know exactly what's behind the discrepancy, he says part of it could be because people don't carry as much cash as they used to. It's a change the organization has tried to adapt to.

"You know we live in an electronic age now, where people spend a lot of time on the computer,” Childs said. “So we're making it possible for people to donate online if they wish to do that, by either texting or they can go to our website and contribute as well."

Millie Debord, a Red Kettle volunteer who’s been working outside of the Panama City Walmart on 23rd Street, says she’s seen only a few instances of this.

“I’ve been here about two weeks, and I’ve only heard that about three times,” Debord said. “So really, that’s rarely said. Everyone has been nice, and it definitely goes to a good cause. About eight out of ten people are donating.”

The Panama City division of the organization has set a goal of reaching $120,000 by the end of the season. Childs says the volunteers are just as important as the donations.

"Without the help of individuals who are willing to go out and collect for our Red Kettle effort, we would not be able to go out and get the sufficient funds we need to provide the assistance we provide for needy families," he said.

The funds from the Red Kettles are used to purchase items like food and clothing for less fortunate families. Those families sign up for the Salvation Army services in October.

To find out how you can donate online, visit http://www.salvationarmyflorida.org/panamacity/