A trailer that collects donations for The Salvation Army of Augusta was nearly empty this week when it needed to be at least half-full to help the needy.
Lt. Shauntrice Williams, The Salvation Army’s congregational life officer, said the trailer on Greene Street was a wake-up call that the organization needs more community support.
Donations of money and items are down 10 percent from the same time last year, a problem that Salvation Army leaders attribute to a continual economic slump and a misconception about operating funds for the Kroc Center.
The Kroc Center of Augusta opened a little more than a year ago on upper Broad Street. The 80,000-square-foot facility, leaders say, is funded by a separate pot of money from the social services of The Salvation Army.
“A lot of people see this beautiful building and they believe the donations we are receiving from (the Christmas Red Kettle collection) and mail appeal go to fund this building, and that is not the case,” Williams said.
The Kroc Center was funded by a charitable gift from McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc and a capital campaign. An endowment and membership revenue support ongoing operations, according to The Salvation Army.
“The homeless shelter, the rehab program, the soup line – those aren’t programs that benefit from money that the Kroc Center has. They still require community support,” Williams said.
Typically, spring and summer months are slow times for incoming donations, but Williams said the organization was hit even worse this year.
Another sign that donations are down is The Salvation Army’s Auto Auction, the organization’s largest fundraiser after Christmas giving. Sixty cars were donated for the June auction, compared with 80 in June 2011.
“When people aren’t donating their goods, (the thrift store) shelves are empty and we cannot receive the financial contributions from people purchasing items,” Williams said.