ONALASKA, WIS — Each holiday season, people of the Coulee Region can count on hearing Salvation Army bell-ringers, in their staple red aprons, outside their local grocery and retail stores. But with social distancing and minimized capacities at some places, the Salvation Army’s donations are at risk as it faces an unprecedented amount of need due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is why the Salvation Army has decided to take drastic measures and activate it’s Special Forces Unit to help encourage people to donate more money.
“Due to the ongoing hardships from COVID-19, our traditional fundraising season is in need of rescuing for those most vulnerable,” director of community relations Ollie Tabugger, “So we have activated and mobilized our highly trained Salvation Army Special Forces unit to help encourage people to give as much money as they possibly can.”
The Special Forces, colloquially known as the “Red Berets,” are a special operations force who specialize in convenience store warfare, automatic door insurgency, bell-ringing counter-terrorism, red apron reconnaissance, and donation intimidation tactics.
“In order to reach our annual goal of $500,000, we need a much heavier hand than traditional smiling and begging,” Tabugger continued, “The Red Berets are trained to turn that loose change into bills.”
Tabugger has strategically established a Red Beret presence at several convenience stores around the La Crosse area, but specifically at places where people needlessly spend a lot of money.
“We put them outside places like Kohl’s where people traditionally go to waste money on nothing,” Tabugger explained, “Hopefully we can squeeze the change from the person who just bought a Kurig coffee maker or that air fryer they’ll only use once.”
Reporter Dr. Jonathan H. Dong contributed to this article.