It's been a tough year for the Salvation Army Greater Houston Command. Hurricane Ike and the depressed economy left the organization 17 percent short of its fundraising goal after last Christmas.
Spokesman Juan Alanis says donations are down, but the need has increased.
"We kind of really started exploring new options, you know what we could do to try to bridge that gap this year seeing as the economy is still slowly recovering, it's not fully recovered at this point. And we're not sure how this Christmas is going to fare for us."
So for the first time, you'll be able to text a donation to the Salvation Army. Alanis says when you text the letters SALARMY to 90999, your cell phone carrier will automatically bill you $5. That money is then sent to the Salvation Army.
"So it's an easy option for people that don't carry cash a lot of times, especially younger folks when they're passing through one of our stores and they see our bell ringers, they want to give but they don't have any cash on them. So this is a kind of convenient way for them to be able to just text something and make a donation. Text SALARMY to 90999 and you're automatically making that donation."
In the Houston area 30,000 children are registered for Christmas assistance, 20 percent more than in 2008.
Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.