When it comes to raising money at this critical time of the year, The Salvation Army isn't going to let technology pass it by.

The volunteers keep ringing at the various red kettle locations for Salvation Army, but these traditional spots aren't the only places you can make a donation to this worthy cause during the holidays.

And that's a good thing. In the age of mobile devices and plastic cards for just about everything, it would seem fewer and fewer people walk around with a wad of cash. That means they might not be able to stuff a few of those dollars into the red kettles.

"There are several ways to donate," said Beverly Peterson, Fox Valley regional development director of the Salvation Army. "We have our virtual red kettles, and every Salvation Army website has a donate button, and we also have a way to donate through text."

The "Donate" button on the sites move you to a drop down list, with one option being "Make a Donation." Clicking on that provides an entire list of ways to donate.

The Text to Give messaging operates with the donor texting 41444 and providing the name of the Salvation Army unit. A return text provides some amounts to choose from, and the user sends it back with a donation.

The virtual kettles operate through redkettlereason.com, where users can make a donation or choose to create a kettle for a specific cause in a specific community.

And then there's also the truly traditional way of donating, through the mail or through forms in the newspapers, Peterson added.

"As people give in their communities, we want them to understand that what we raise locally, it stays local," Peterson said. "Even if you are using an online donation option, it will list where the donations are coming from."

In the future, those wanting to donate may even have a Salvation Army mobile app to make it easy to do so. Or, some of the red kettle sites might have mobile credit card readers, or digital signs that provide more information about other donating options.

In other words, technology will slowly catch up to the time-tested tradition of plopping money into a bucket and saying "Merry Christmas" to a volunteer ringing the bell.

And it's all quite important, especially this year.

"We are at a shortfall right now because of the shorter holiday season," Peterson said. "Plus, we usually ring up until Dec. 24, but the Salvation Army policy is to not ring on Sundays, and Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year.

"We will miss that day this year, so it is crucial that we have people volunteer to ring the bell and for people to give generously."

Some big numbers:

It's not like I've been tallying the numbers for the past week, and it's finally time to mention this.

For the most part, it has taken me this long to wrap my brain around this to see if I could come up with the answer to this question: Did last weekend's Christmas Walk in Geneva represent the greatest number of people in one place at the same time (in this case, about a three-hour time period) in the history of the Tri-Cities?

I know the Swedish Days parade in Geneva and the Electric Christmas Parade in St. Charles have drawn massive crowds, but those are for specific one- or two-hour events. Scarecrow Festival in St. Charles draws big numbers, but those are spread out over long days.

The streets of Geneva were incredibly crowded last weekend, with the proof being in where cars were parked. Granted, some of it was for the Christmas House Tour, but that counts as part of all of this hoopla.

The auxiliary train station parking lot and the Geneva Government Center grounds parking areas were all full. And cars were parked as far away as Sunset Park pool -- and all places in between, in all directions from the major gathering places of State and Third streets.

I'm not any good at predicting crowd sizes, but let's call it this: mammoth and quite likely unprecedented.

A change at Chez:

At least the Chez Moi site in Geneva isn't closing for good.

A new chef will take over and move the restaurant "in his own direction," according to owner Beth Simone Cull.

She posted that information on the door at the restaurant at 415 W. State St. the past couple of weeks to inform patrons of coming changes. Cull said she made the tough decision to sell the restaurant after six successful years so she could pursue other personal and professional opportunities.

She hadn't responded to an email prior to my deadline. I was hoping to get a little more information on what's next for her and the site.

The hips are moving:

When dropping off some toys at Pottawatomie Golf Course pro shop in St. Charles for the Jim Wheeler Toys for Kids drive, it was good to see Assistant Golf Manager Bill Ogiego doing well after some hip surgery.

He had another surgery scheduled for the other hip, but he was looking in good spirits after shedding quite a bit of weight to prepare for the surgery.

We're wishing the best for him, as he is one of the truly good guys in town.

By the way, the drop-off deadline for the toy drive is today if you were thinking of purchasing a few toys for the cause.

As for golf, Pottawatomie is open through Dec. 23. Like some other courses in the area, Pottawatomie had a handful of players still making their way around the nine-hole course during those warmer climates earlier in the month.

dheun@sbcglobal.net