The Salvation Army bell ringers will be joined at collection kettles this Holiday Season by a brand new sound of the season -- the sound of debit and credit cards being swiped in these portable machines.
"More people are carrying plastics and the past several years, people would ask "Do you accept credit cards?" and we would have to tell them "No, we don't,'" said Capt. Burch Soriano with the Salvation Army.
The cashless option should also be more profitable for the Salvation Army. In a test-marketing campaign last year, they discovered the average donation went from $2 to $15, when people used their debt or credit cards.
It is a definite break with tradition, a tradition which began right here in San Francisco in December of 1891. Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee had decided he was going to feed the poor, so he set up a red Christmas kettle at the Ferry Building to collect donations and the tradition was born.
The shoppers ABC7 spoke with at Serramonte Center in Daly City say providing a cashless option makes all the sense in the world.
"Swipe, quick, that's what I do all the time at gas stations, shopping mall, that's all I do," said shopper Joelle Kaskanlian.
"Most of us today don't carry a lot of cash around so I would be more inclined to give more," said shopper Anne Makar.
There's one more reason credit or debit might make you jollier around tax time.
"It's also a great way for those of us who like to have a tax deduction at the end of the year. It's an instant gratification, you get that receipt as you donate. A lot of people like that too," said Laine Hendricks with the Salvation Army.
You won't find the machines at many kettles right now. There are only two in the Bay Area: one in San Francisco and one in Santa Clara. Soon, they'll be circulating from location to location, but if they are as successful as hoped, there will be many more to ring in next year's holiday season.