We've all seen them: bell ringers in front of grocery stores and inside malls across the country. But this year, those red kettles are running a little empty.

Bells ring, hoping for help from shoppers to donate their loose change. Salvation Army donation stations are pulling in a little less money this year.

“At the beginning of the week, we were down 24 percent at this point in the season compared to last year. A big part of that is because we started late. We had five days that we lost because Thanksgiving came so late in November,” said Jeremy Miller, with the Salvation Army.

One of the possible reasons for lower donations this year is weather just like this. The cold and the snow tends to keep people indoors and not at the kettles donating.

“There was a winter storm, I think it was last week, that played a role from Central New York all the way to the Capital Region. A lot of our kettles were very slow at best on those days, so it was essentially losing another day,” said Miller.

Donations are rising, with only 16 percent shortage now, but there are only so many more days left in the ringing season.

“It's not just some number or some bottom line in some office somewhere. It's the programs and services that we provide all year round to people in need, whether that’s sending a child to camp or providing for a family that’s homeless, or someone who just lost their job and they need some help to pay some bills,” said Miller.

December 20 is what the Salvation Army is calling the "$20 Challenge," encouraging everyone to donate $20 online or in person to help make up for the donation gap.