INDIANAPOLIS — Local toy drives and holiday campaign organizers are preparing to see a greater need this holiday season due to the pandemic.

The Salvation Army said they expect to see a greater need for their services – more than any in recent history.

According to their website, the campaign anticipates a 50% decrease in red kettle funds this year due to several factors, including:

  • Consumers carrying less cash and fewer coins
  • More online shopping, which means less foot traffic in shopping areas
  • Unemployment rates
  • Recent closures of some brick-and-mortar retail stores

Meanwhile, local initiatives like the YMCA’s Project Reindeer are still accepting applications for their annual event but are preparing to accept half the amount.

“Now more than ever is an opportunity that we have to be able to serve,” said Executive Director for the YMCA at the Athenaeum, Jeff Mabry.

Mabry said Project Reindeer, formally known as Breakfast with Santa, is an annual event that delivers gifts to families in shelters across downtown Indianapolis. 

“Some of the people that are now relying on [homeless] shelters – they’ve never been in a situation where they thought that they needed to,” said Mabry.

He said with occupancy at the shelters nearly doubling amid the pandemic, registration continues for another three weeks.

“Being able to present an opportunity for joy is what we should focus on first a foremost,” said Mabry.

There are also still options for residents in Boone County. Boone County’s Fraternal Order of Police said they will host a COVID-friendly version of their annual event – Christmas with a Cop.

“Given a year like we’ve had so far, we felt it was a necessity to continue with this program,” said Craig Fouts, President of Boone County Fraternal Order of Police. 

Fouts said last year Christmas with a Cop provided 423 local kids, ages 12 and under, with money to buy clothes, coats, and other winter essentials.

“If everything continues on the averages that we’ve been seeing, we’re expecting around 450 kids from about 274 to 300 families,” said Fouts.

Fouts said he expects even more applications for the program to come in this year due to the pandemic, but donations may not catch up.

“The entire fundraising effort for this program is done locally without the help of commercial groups,” said a release from the Boone County Fraternal Order of Police. “All of the money raised goes directly to Boone County children.”

“We are still going to help as many children as we can. We’re not going to leave any children out that need our help,” said Fouts. “Whether it’s $10. Whether it’s $100. We’re trying to help as many kids as we can.”

Applications to participate in Christmas with a Cop are now available. Completed applications should be returned to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, Lebanon Police Department, Whitestown Metropolitan Police Department, and/or the Zionsville Police Department.

The completed applications must be returned no later than 4:00pm on November 25th. Donations can be made to Boone County FOP Christmas with a Cop PO Box 432 Lebanon, IN 46052.

Meanwhile, Mabry said those interested in participating in Project Reindeer must go through their local homeless shelter.

If the public is interested in donating to Project Reindeer, Mabry said there are two options:

  • Purchase a gift(s) from our Amazon wishlist. Anyone can take an ornament from the tree in our lobbies. On the ornament is the QR code to Amazon, where they can go to choose a preselected gift. They place the order and it directly ships here to the Y @ the Athenaeum. They are welcome to take the ornament off the tree, or simply scan the code. 
  • Cash contributions will also be accepted for those that don’t want to shop but would like to support the event. Head to and choose the Athenaeum.