Christmas is a time for giving, but many organizations, including the Salvation Army, have struggled this year to raise funds for several of its Christmas programs due to Hurricane Katrina.
"All non-profits experience shortages after major disasters," said Tracie Parker, the director of development with the Salvation Army. "During disasters, people feel compelled to give 110 percent by collecting items and canned food drives, but this year, they are tapped by Christmas time."
According to a Salvation Army press release, the kettle donations are down by 19 percent this year, the organization's annual canned food drive has received 22 percent less food and the stocking and coat drives are struggling.
"It usually takes about two to three months to recover," Ms. Parker said. "It's the holiday season and we won't see any true recovery until January.
Currently, the Salvation Army serves more than 370 meals a day and has 3,600 families in their Christmas program. Also, the organization has to provide for several evacuees from the Gulf Coast, Ms. Parker said.
Another obstacle the nonprofit is dealing with is the policy change at both Target and the Augusta Mall about kettle drive solicitation.
"Honestly, those were our two most resourceful locations," she said. "We had hoped The Salvation Army and Target would have worked it out, but they haven't. Now we have the added situation with the mall. Not being able to ring the bells there on Saturdays is tough."
Ms. Parker said the local management at the mall worked it out where the Salvation Army may set up the kettle to collect donations Monday through Friday.
Residents also can help through the Adopt an Angel program, Ms. Parker said, where angels are hung on a Christmas tree at the mall. Each angel has a needy child's first name, clothing sizes and a Christmas wish list. There are 200 angels on the tree, but there are thousands of other children in need, she said.
Reach Rebecca A. Smith at (706) 823-3552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Salvation Army is in need of financial donations, toys and coats. Relocated Gulf Coast evacuees need clothes, furniture and household items. For more information, call 826-7923.