Donors can put plastic in Salvation Army buckets this season

Tom Barlow

Residents of Colorado Springs need not reach in their pocket this year for change when they hear the familiar ringing of the Salvation Army volunteer calling attention to its donation bucket. In a test program, some Santas wil be equipped to take plastic.

For the test, done in cooperation with U.S. Bank, the volunteers (augmented, when necessary, with paid temps) will be equipped with wireless card readers, so donors can swipe to support the Army's homeless shelter and meal programs.

The program stands to bring in more money for two reasons; the declining value of change, and people's propensity to give more using credit cards than when forking over cash. It may also reassure donors skeptical that 100% of the donated funds will reach the Salvation Army, and will provide documentation for those who wish to claim a deduction on their taxes.

Still, the sound of a card swipe isn't as satisfying as coins plinking into the traditional red bucket. But if the difference brings shelter and food to those in need and Christmas gifts for their children, I can live with the change.