With the holiday season quickly approaching, local charitable organizations ask to be kept in mind when making donations.
The end of the calendar year marks a time where people tend to dig deep into their pockets to give to a favorite charity. Such donations come at a time when many area residents themselves in greater need than the rest of the year.
"Unfortunately, donations are down right now," said Lori Franzen, food pantry coordinator for the Salvation Army. "We can never have people give enough, but right now particularly we're not where we want to be."
A partially full stockroom at the Salvation Army is pictured at right. Salvation Army officials said recently food donations haven’t been as much as in previous years.
P-J photo by
Unlike more eastern parts of the state, which were hit fairly hard by hurricane Sandy, Chautauqua County only experienced moderate wind and rain.
As a result, the food pantry at the Salvation Army was not depleted the way other branches throughout the state were, however the agency's supplies are still not where Franzen would like them to be, especially with the Christmas season approaching.
"We weren't hit so hard by the hurricane out here, so I don't think people made extra donations in response," said Franzen. "To be honest, if anything, I think that people right now are reluctant to donate, and I think it is because of the state of our economy."
According to Franzen, the hurricane didn't cause enough damage in the county to truly displace anyone, so there wasn't an influx of people in need coming to the agency for help.
However, with the holiday season coming, poverty tends to hit a bit harder, and Franzen worries that the Salvation Army won't be able to give as much as they would like to those in need.
"We try to provide for everyone, however they might not get as much as they need," said Franzen. "We want to help people as much as we can, however the way things are right now we might not be able to help everyone to the extent that we would like to."
Franzen said that there are many ways that the community can help make the holiday season easier for those in need. Monetary donation or gifts of nonperishable food items are always accepted at the Salvation Army located in Brooklyn Square. Furthermore, those who simply are not in a position to donate money but still would like to help may sign up to be a bell ringer outside of commercial establishments.
"If people are interested in volunteering, they can call us at 664-4108 and ask for me," said Holly Eckstrom. "We will work with people to find a date and a time that is convenient for them. We usually only ask people to stand outside for about an hour, but some people don't mind going for two or more hours. Sometimes groups come to us and sign up for a whole day, then have separate members of that group take shifts. No matter how it gets done, we appreciate every single person that volunteers for us. We simply could not be able to function without the generosity of others."
Much like the Salvation Army, the Joint Neighborhood Project feels the constraint that comes along with the holiday season.
"This is a time of the year when we see the generosity of the community come out both in donations of food and money," said Barb Hungerford, executive director of JNP. "However, it is also the time of the year when we see more people coming to use the pantry, so our numbers go up for usage this time of year as well. I would say that we are not in a position where we are going to run out of food, but if anything like that were to happen, it would be an absolute tragedy. All the extra donations people are willing to give this time of year are appreciated and certainly get put to good use almost immediately."
Much like the Salvation Army, the Join Neighborhood Project accepts nonperishable food as well as monetary donations. Additionally, like the Salvation Army, JNP appreciates and accepts the help of anyone who is willing to donate their time rather than their money.
"We're a 501 (c) (3) organization, so all donations to us are tax deductible," said Hungerford. "Those who wish to help but cannot offer money are always welcome to give us a hand, because we always need it. We are always receiving donations at our thrift store that we need to get ready to sell, so volunteers are greatly appreciated there. There are times of the week when we get food deliveries, and we need people to come in for maybe just an hour to help us put the food away. There's so many ways people can help without having to take money out of their wallets. ... Of course, I would never want to discourage anyone from donating to a charity they love, but 100 percent of the donations we receive stay in the community. We appreciate all that we receive, because we know every charity is in need this time of year."