MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- The Salvation Army of Clay County may soon implement credit card readers during its next kettle season not only to keep up with the times but to protect against thefts.
According to Lt. Ben Bridges, the money stuffed in the red kettles is critical to their operation.
"The monies that come in at kettle season, quite honestly, allow the Salvation Army to operate year round," said Bridges.
Last year, Clay County kettles collected about $190,000.
When Bridges heard his counterparts in Washington, D.C., were the targets of a theft, he knew exactly how much of a blow it would be.
Surveillance video caught two thieves breaking into a D.C. Salvation Army center and stealing about $10,000 meant for needy families.
"Disgusting. That takes a low person to do that. That's just not right," said donator Susan Hopper.
"It's just appalling that someone could steal from an organization that is trying to help the poor," said volunteer bell ringer Jonathan Sornig.
Because of incidents like the one in D.C., Bridges agrees changes need to be made.
"We're piloting different programs where we can use the credit card reader perhaps on a smart phone or even the mobile credit card devices," said Bridges.
Bridges said card readers are already being tested in other major cities and by next year they could be in Clay County.
According to Bridges, they're also looking at ways to implement a text messaging donation system. The Salvation Army of Clay County already allows people to donate to the red kettle online.
The Salvation Army of Clay County keeps the money collected during kettle season in a safe. Bridges said the agency also works with the Clay County Sheriff's Office that sends a squad car to patrol the parking lot when needed.