Holidays make the difference in donations

ALBANY, Ga. -- The holiday season tends to bring out something good in people that they may not express other times of the year.

One area in which that is evident is through charitable donations.

Officials with the Salvation Army on West Second Avenue say that recent donation flow has been "extremely strong," with the increased activity starting on Dec. 26.

"This time of year (donations) are more constant, more so than the norm," said Crystal Kegler, store manager at the Salvation Army.

Kegler said Monday that the traffic was not quite as heavy late in 2012 as it had been at the same time in years past, with the spike in donations beginning earlier in the month of December -- which could be attributed to the public not being aware of the organization's hours of operation during the holidays, she said.

While she could not speak to monetary donations, Kegler said there was an average of 35-40 items a week donated to the Salvation Army to be distributed to the needy in December, which reflects an increase of 40 percent.

While donations may be up overall for many organizations, the season has not been rosy for everyone. Officials with the Albany Rescue Mission say that while there has been an increase in the number of food donations, monetary donations have been down significantly.

Larry Daniel, assistant director to Albany Rescue Mission, said that this comes at time when the organization is feeding more people -- which means they may not last long unless the financial situation improves.

"(Monetary donations) have been down since September, but we are still able to keep the doors open," he said.

Daniel said the there was an influx of food donations through November and December, enough to reflect a 20 percent increase of both cooked and uncooked items from the same time last year.

"The extra food is a blessing," he said.

On the financial front, all the assistant director would say was that the mission was "tens of thousands off" from where it was a year ago.

"Normally what comes in (during the holiday season) lasts us until May and June. Now things are looking grim," Daniel said. "This is normally the busiest time, now it is the slowest."

Daniel said he attributes the uncertainty of the economic climate as a reason why the organization's outlook looks so bleak from a monetary standpoint.

The Albany Rescue Mission is currently feeding about 10,000 people a month, Daniel said.

Jim Case, Albany branch director for the Second Harvest of South Georgia, said that there has been an increase of 25 percent in terms of financial donations and a decrease of 20 percent in food donations from this time last year.

Case said he attributes the jump in financial donations to an increased public interest in the organization -- specifically through its anticipated Kids Cafe -- while the lessened food traffic is, in part, linked to weak exposure of the collection drives that contribute to the bank, he said.

In the meantime, there tends to be an increase in demand for the food bank's resources during the holidays, Case said.

"The increase in need is close to a 50-60 percent jump," he said. "There are a lot of places that shut down for the holidays, so there are no checks. Finances change."

The Albany warehouse, which covers 10 counties, has so far distributed more than 3 million pounds of food to the area it serves -- with 1.5 million pounds of that going to Dougherty County. While the homeless population is among those that take advantage of the food bank's resources, there are others who utilizes its donations -- including disaster victims served by the American Red Cross.

While the food donations are not quite ideal, Case is said the organization is grateful for what they can get.

"It is hard to express why one can makes a difference," he said. "Across all diversities, people are doing what they can.

"We appreciate what people can do to respond in any manner."


tocar 2 years, 11 months ago

It is nice to be able to give donations. However, if one cannot give monetarily, volunteering to work or giving of your time is also rewarding. We each need to establish one worthwhile organization in which we pledge to help in some way during the year.


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