The Salvation Army New Jersey Division's annual "Red Kettle Campaign" is experiencing a significant shortfall in the current holiday season.

According to The Salvation Army, the money raised in the annual "Red Kettle Campaign' provides meals for more than 25 million people. As of 2016, The Salvation Army was providing 56 million meals and 10 million nights of shelter nationwide, the organization says.

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New Jersey's divisional commander, Major James Betts, said that this year's relatively short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a "huge factor, when you consider that across the state of New Jersey, we typically bring in about $40,000 per day in our kettle." The time between holidays is about six days shorter than the Salvation Army usually has to work with.

"When you put them all together, that's an enormous shortfall that is close to a quarter of a million dollars," he said.

Bettssaid another factor is lower unemployment -- a good thing overall, but it means there are fewer volunteers available to work the kettles. Uncertain weather has kept some people home, he said.

This year, for the first time, the Salvation Army is offering "Kettle Pay," which enables donors who have Apple Pay or Google Pay to electronically donate by tapping their phones to signs. So far, Betts said, that's running smoothly, but it may take a few years to get donors used to the idea.

Betts said the Salvation Army is counting on the public's generosity to fill in the gap.

"We are so grateful for all of the ways that folks have been willing to help, and we just hope that where they are able to give just a little more, that would be fantastic," he said.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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