Charities Say Requests Are Up, Donations Are Down

Charities Say Requests Are Up, Donations Are Down


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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- There are more requests for help from Sub for Santa programs in northern Utah, while donations are down.

The Salvation Army, which handles most of the demand, said Tuesday that it is seeing as many as 50 percent more children and families signing up for help this holiday season.

Sharon Anderson, executive director of the Family Connection Center in Davis County, said she has about 200 more children than last year who need help.

Meanwhile, donations to both agencies are lagging.

Capt. Rich Pease, at the Salvation Army, said he is dealing with multiple shortages compared to last year: Toys, bell ringers and money. The increase in people needing help makes those shortages all the more pressing, he said.

He suspects high gasoline prices may be a factor.

"A lot of the people we help are the working poor," he said. "They can't afford to not go to work, and they've got all these fixed expenses and heating bills are going up."

That means, he said, "anything like gas prices can push them over the edge. We're seeing a lot of people who are right at the poverty line, just at the limit, barely making ends meet."

He said that last year, the kettle collections raised $180,000 and the direct mail appeals raised $100,000. "This year we're on pace to do about $160,000 in the kettles and another $80,000 in the direct mail," he said.

Part of the problem is he needs more bell ringers, but the money shortage means he can't hire more, and there aren't enough volunteers.

"We have about 45 locations, and like today I think I have 20 out," he said.

Anderson said the Family Connection Center has about 400 families signed up for help with toys this Christmas. Her list of families is checked with a computer database kept by the Salvation Army to avoid duplication, she said.

"We need toys all through the month," she said. "We have people coming in all the time."

The Family Connection Center runs a kind of toy store, now open, in which registered families can go through selecting toys.

"It's not a huge Christmas. It's two toys per family, and some stocking stuffers," she said.

"And we have enough blankets this year, so everyone gets a blanket."

Blankets were provided by Relief Society chapters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Families seeking assistance can call Volunteers of America at 746-2565 (English) or 746-2567 (Spanish).

If you wish to sponsor a family, you can log onto the United Way of Salt Lake City web site at www.uw.org.

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