Facing ‘a tsunami of human need,’ charities adapt holiday giving to the pandemic.

Talk to the staff members of charitable organizations these days and they will tell you they have never seen a year like 2020. Millions of Americans are out of work or newly living in poverty and many others are socially isolated, creating a greater-than-ever demand for services. Kenneth Hodder, the national commander of the Salvation Army, described the present moment as “a tsunami of human need.”

And yet many charities have had their normal operations disrupted, creating a mismatch between that need and the ability to fill it. People who gave money in years past may not have the financial means to do so this year. Organizations that provide direct, in-person services, like food banks and homeless shelters, are just as reliant on volunteers despite public concerns about the virus.

This is the time of year when people traditionally donate to toy drives, food banks and other favored charities or give their time as volunteers. And for many charities, the money raised in November and December is the major part of their budgets for the next year.

In many cases, organizations are continuing to try to fill people’s needs. Others have taken their work online.

The Salvation Army has placed Google Pay, Apple Pay and QR codes on red kettles nationwide to facilitate contactless payments. And some coat drives are now drive-through or virtual.

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