With just under a week left, The Salvation Army faced difficulties reaching their holiday fundraising goal until Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott gave them a boost.
On Sunday, Dec. 18, the rookie sensation jumped into a jumbo-sized Salvation Army Red Kettle after scoring a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Though the act may have gotten Elliott in a bit of hot water — he was penalized and nearly fined for the display — The Salvation Army has been the beneficiary, seeing a 61 percent increase in donations as of Monday, Dec. 19.
“We’ve seen an $80,000 increase in digital donations since the touchdown versus this time last week,” Lt. Col. Ron Busroe, community relations and development secretary for the organization, told CNBC. “That brings the total raised in 24 hours to $180,971. Many of the donations are coming in the form of $21 — Elliott’s jersey number.”
The NFL, which has notoriously cracked down on excessive in-game celebrations in recent years, announced Tuesday that it would not fine Elliott.
Elliott tweeted in response to not being fined that he would “still be making a donation to the Salvation Army.”
Days before the game, the foundation put out a request for donations, as giving had been down 16 percent due to fluctuating temperatures and snowy conditions.
“With only one week of fundraising remaining for the Red Kettle campaign, the impact of less dollars in the kettles for even a few days will affect how we can serve those in need all year long,” Busroe said. “The wintry weather we are seeing across the country is among things keeping people from getting out and dropping contributions in our 25,000 kettles.”
During the holiday season, over 3 million families rely on The Salvation Army to provide them with a warm meal or toys for their children, the organization said.
The donations to the Red Kettles also enables the Army to serve more than 25 million people a year by providing over 10 million nights of shelter and 57 million meals a year, along with substance-abuse recovery programs, after-school programs and emergency shelter, for children and families in need.
They urge supporters to donate to the Red Kettles both in person and online as soon as possible.
The Red Kettle campaign ends on Christmas Eve. Those looking to donate online are urged to start a #RedKettleReason fundraising page by visiting RedKettleReason.org and clicking “Start a Fundraiser.” Users will be asked to specify the community for which they want to raise funds, fundraising goal and designated cause to support.
“We need people to know how important this short period is for us and to do what they can — at the kettles or online,” Busroe said. “In addition to hundreds of year-round programs, ironically, it’s urgent-need programs like warming shelters for the homeless that can suffer if weather keeps people from donating.”