The Salvation Army has kicked off its annual Red Kettle Campaign after getting snubbed by the Chick-fil-A Foundation, which ended donations to the group after receiving years of backlash from the LGBTQ community.
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Despite the snub, the 129-year-old iconic campaign kicked off with 25,000 red kettles outside retail locations nationwide.
The Salvation Army is urging people to join the "Fight for Good on Giving Tuesday," a day promoting global giving.
"After we've given thanks over the past few days for the blessings in our lives, Giving Tuesday is a chance for us all to pay it forward by donating to organizations that serve those in need," said Commissioner David Hudson, national commander of The Salvation Army.
The campaign supports more than 23 million Americans in need annually. The organization works to provide meals and presents to over 2 million families on Christmas Day. Donations to the campaign also help The Salvation Army provide nearly 10 million nights of shelter and 52 million meals a year, along with substance-abuse recovery programs, after-school programs and emergency shelter for children and families in need.
But faced with the shortened gift-giving season, The Salvation Army says donations this year are critical.
"With a shorter fundraising season, due to Thanksgiving falling six days later in the calendar year than 2018, your donations are critical, now more than ever, to serve our most vulnerable populations," Hudson added.
This year, donations can be made through Apple Pay, Google Pay or Give.SalvationArmyUSA.org.
The Chick-fil-A Foundation gave The Salvation Army $165,000 in 2017 and 2018.
The charity said it was "saddened" by Chick-fil-A's decision. It said the move was based on misinformation that, when perpetuated, puts at risk its ability "to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or any other factor."
"We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community," The Salvation Army said in a statement. "In fact, we believe we are the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population. When misinformation is perpetuated without fact, our ability to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or any other factor, is at risk."
The Atlanta-based company characterized the move as an attempt to focus its charitable donations on groups tackling homelessness, hunger and education.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.