Originally created 01/06/02

Level of year-end giving varies

It's the time of year when charities begin checking their lists and assessing their needs.

For Jeff Blake and the Goodwill Industries, the list of needs is short.

For Becky Adams and the Salvation Army, the list is long.

Charities such as Goodwill and Salvation Army said they typically see a great increase in donations during the end of the year because of an added benefit to giving.

"Essentially every dollar you donate reduces your taxable income by one dollar," said John Stillwell, a tax preparer for the Martinez H&R Block.

To be tax-deductible, a donation has to be made by Dec. 31. If made later, it counts toward the next year's taxes.

This time, the year-end giving varied.

Mr. Blake, the director of community relations for Goodwill, said his organization received many donations from the public. The blue donation bins for the organization were often overflowing.

All donations to Goodwill are being used to finance the job connections service, which helps people find employment.

"It was comparable with last year," Mr. Blake said. "We just make sure we have plenty of staff on hand."

Ms. Adams, the manager of the Salvation Army store in Augusta, said December brought few donations.

Normally, she can dedicate the store's entire second floor to clothes.

This year, the second floor sits empty.

"We were hoping to at least do what we did last year," Ms. Adams said.

She said the drop was likely because many donors already had given to Augusta's Care and Prayer Crusade, a campaign to raise $1 million for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I think that million dollars just killed us," she said.

Ms. Adams said she gives out eight outfits and one pair of shoes to anyone with valid identification every Thursday and sells the rest to help pay the rent and bills of those who need assistance.

Usually, the December rush is enough to stock the Salvation Army store through Masters Week. This year, she said, the donations probably won't last two weeks.

"We're in a crunch," she said. "But we will keep helping until the money runs out."

Charities aren't the only ones getting mixed results. Churches are also seeing various trends.

The Rev. Glenn Ethridge, the senior pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church in Evans, said giving at his church increased dramatically during December.

"It was substantially higher than the other months of the year, which is always the case," he said. "Giving is always higher in the final months of the year. This December, compared to previous Decembers, was proportionately the same."

But at Marvin United Methodist Church, the Rev. Kevin Lobello said gifts and other donations slumped.

"It was down a good little bit," he said. "Normally, the giving is much, much higher in December."

For those who missed the year-end rush, chances are the new year won't be any kinder. Ms. Adams said January and February historically produce slim pickings.

"People have been cleaned out for the end of the year in donations," Ms. Adams said.

Donations are down for some area charities, stretching their resources and reducing the number of people the agencies can serve.

Reach Preston Sparks or Louie Villalobos at (706) 868-1222 or ccchron@augustachronicle.com.


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