Salvation Army chapters across the country are reporting massive shortages in volunteer hours and toy donations just weeks after the charity distributed (and then pulled) a controversial guide calling on white people to confront their "racist attitudes."

Some 20,000 volunteer hours have gone unfilled for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign this year, which historically represents about 33% of the charity's total yearly donations. The charity has also reported substantial shortages of toy and gift donations in some parts of the country, such as New Jersey, where donations are down 30% across the state.

The reports of volunteer and donation shortages come less than three weeks after the Salvation Army pulled an internal "Let's Talk About Racism" guide that discouraged "colorblindness" and called on white people to "evaluate racist attitudes and practices."

The Salvation Army initially defended the guide in late November, saying in a statement that it was false to suggest the group believes white people should apologize for their skin color or that America is an inherently racist society.


However, the group removed the guide from its website on Nov. 30 after acknowledging its contents "led some to believe we think they should apologize for the color of their skin, or that The Salvation Army may have abandoned its Biblical beliefs for another philosophy or ideology."

"That was never our intention, so the guide has been removed for appropriate review," the charity said in a statement.

Salvation Army Marketing Manager Angel Fields Mitchell told CBS Minnesota that the COVID-19 pandemic was to blame for the volunteer shortages, but a recent Rasmussen poll suggests that the blowback to the group's anti-racism guide damaged its credibility among the public and potential donors.

The poll found that the percentage of respondents who had an unfavorable view of the group increased from 11% to 41% after respondents were informed of the guide and told the charity was "training members in the belief that America is a structurally racist society." And the percentage of respondents who reported having a favorable opinion of the Salvation Army dropped from 81% to 41% after learning of the guide.

Leaders of local Salvation Army chapters have expressed alarm within the last week over volunteer and donation shortages.

"The situation is dire, and we are asking our generous supporters in the region to donate to the virtual Northwest Red Kettle, as well as make donations at every physical kettle in whatever way you can," Col. Cindy Foley of the NW Salvation Army Division told Fox 13 Seattle.

Other chapters have reported substantial volunteer shortages as well. The Montgomery Salvation Army said it was only able to man about a dozen of its 40 red kettle locations across the Alabama city and has resorted to hiring people to make up for the shortage.


"The Red Kettle Campaign is Salvation Army's biggest campaign. It's our biggest campaign here in Wilkes-Barre," Lt. Ismael Ortiz of the Salvation Army in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, told WNEP. "It's where we raise the most funds for our entire year. This year, we're really having trouble getting volunteers to stand kettles for us."

The Salvation Army did not return a request for comment.