McALLEN — Bells will be ringing.

The Salvation Army of McAllen kicked off its Red Kettle and Angel Tree campaigns on Friday morning. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has high aspirations for the 2020 holiday season as drive-thru efforts will be implemented.

“This officially kicks off what we’re doing for our Christmas campaigns,” said Lt. Adolph Aguirre, commanding officer for the Salvation Army in McAllen and Hidalgo County. “It’s a drive-thru/virtual event, but we’re also accepting donations this year. We’re just making this a lively event to say to the community, ‘Come join us in our efforts this Christmas season to rescue Christmas.”

Dozens gathered in the parking lot of the Salvation Army of McAllen on 1600 N. 23rd St. to celebrate the beginning of another year of fundraising for needy families in Hidalgo County.

“Each Salvation Army and their community does a kickoff presentation, so we’ve chosen (Friday) because (Saturday) we’ll be at all our locations bell ringing and asking for angels,” Aguirre said.

This year, the Salvation Army is allowing virtual donations in lieu of cash donations due to the pandemic. Participants can also adopt an angel, or a child in need, electronically and order toys and other necessities online.

Aguirre explained that when an angel is adopted, they are essentially sponsored by the community who in turn provide Christmas gifts or donations for them.

Andrea Chavez collects a donation during the Salvation Army of McAllen’s Red Kettle and Angle Tree kickoff event Friday in McAllen. (Francisco E. Jimenez | fjimenez@themonitor.com)

The campaigns will go on through Dec. 24. This year, the Salvation Army of McAllen is striving to raise $200,000.

“This year has really intensified on our services,” Aguirre said. “There’s a lot more people in need because of COVID. We really need the support to really continue to offer those services. What we raise during Christmas and during our Kettle campaign goes directly to fund the services of the shelter, community feeding, kids programs, adult programs and clothing vouchers for people in need.”

Cars lined up in the parking lot and awaited their chance to deposit cash into the kettles Friday morning. For Sadie Macias, who’s been a board member of the McAllen Salvation Army since February, this was her fourth kickoff event.

A donation was made into one of the Salvation Army’s red kettles during it’s Red Kettle and Angle Tree kickoff event Friday in McAllen. (Francisco E. Jimenez | fjimenez@themonitor.com)

“Every year I get so excited because it’s not only a great opportunity to give back to a great organization, but also what they do behind the scenes, such as now that coronavirus has struck so many families financially,” Macias said. “The Salvation Army does a great job of providing meals, blankets during the winter season, and of course shelter for those who need it.”

“It’s our mission to help, first and foremost,” she added. “It’s what we do and what we stand for — to help the helpless and anybody who is struggling out there.”

For more about the Red Kettle and Angel Tree campaigns, or to make a donation, visit salvationarmytexas.org/mcallen.