Charities Hurting During the Holiday Season
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
The need is up, but the giving is down. And if it doesn't turn around soon, both the needy and the charities will be hurting.
Thursday was the weekly pickup for Toys For Tots at the Cabot Lodge drop-off. There's plenty of gifts today, but there haven't been enough overall this season. Coordinator Eric Kidwell estimates there's about 40% fewer donations, despite an extra 200 or so requests.
"The need for family assistance this year for Christmas is falling a little more on Toys For Tots shoulders," says Kidwell. "We're trying to do the best we can to pick up that load."
At the Walmart on 13th Street, the familiar sound of bells is ringing a little more empty this year. The Salvation Army is facing the music with donations about half what they were this time last year. They raised more than $74-thousand last year, which accounted for well over 75% of this year's budget. They are at $14-thousand now.
"It brings a tear sometimes to my eye because we now have families that come in through our doors where sometimes we do have to turn them away," says Salvation Army Capt. Raquel Lorenzo.
The Salvation Army has 460 requests and counting for kids to be adopted through the Angel Tree program. And there are still plenty of names on the tree standing in the Oaks Mall with deadlines around the corner.
"We're just trying to bring a smile to a child this Christmas," says Lorenzo. "Because most of these children come from low-income families, and these families want to make a Christmas for these children."
It's the same goal at Toys For Tots. But Kidwell doesn't know why there's a greater need or fewer toys so far. The Volunteer Center of Alachua County ran a similar program in years past but has since shut their doors. And a slowing economy can't help either.
"It's a community effort," says Kidwell. "We're here to head it up, but we need the support of the community and all we can get just helps out all the kids here more and more."
If you are looking to help, it's easy this year.
Toys For Tots has about 100 drop-off locations around the area. For the one nearest you, check out their website at www.toysfortots.org .
You can find a Salvation Army Angel Tree at the Oaks Mall, Walmart on 13th Street, and Applebee's on 13th Street.
For more information on charities all over North Central Florida, you can call United Way's 211 number.
United Way of North Central Florida lists 5 places where you can adopt a family:
Catholic Charities (352) 372-0294
Early Learning Coalition (352) 375-4110 ext. 134
Hippy Program (352) 219-2170
U of F Child Abuse Prevention (352) 334-1330
Shands Health Care Cancer Center (352) 265-0680 ext. 87642
Plenty of other places need help in the form of donations and give assistance to the needy this Christmas season.
Salvation Army (352) 376-1743 ext. 308/309
St. Francis House (352) 378-9079
Junior League Thrift Shop (352) 376-3805
Gainesville Community Ministries (352) 372-8162
High Springs Social Services/Catholic Charities (386) 454-1000
Catholic Charities (352) 372-0294
Peaceful Paths (352) 377-5690
"Be a Santa to a Senior" Home Instead Senior Services (352) 336-3388
Toys For Tots Dixie/Gilchrist/Levy Counties (352) 542-2043
Toys For Tots (352) 262-7717
Interfaith Hospitality Network (352) 278-2030
United Christian Services of Dixie County (352) 498-5702
Bread of the Mighty Food Bank (352) 336-0839
Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church (352) 493-4922
Fire of God Ministries (352) 375-0200
First Baptist Church of Starke (904) 964-6562
Arbor House and Mom's Place (352) 371-2229
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