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Charities hoping for onslaught of generosity as Christmas nears

Published: Sunday, Dec. 11 2011 4:49 p.m. MST

Joy Larson, left, Coral Clifford and Maxine Porter admire a baby at The Road Home shelter in Salt Lake City.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — With Christmas about two weeks away, some local charities are experiencing a drop in holiday giving as the economic downturn and other factors have pinched contributions.

The Salvation Army has experienced a 21 percent decline in giving from a year ago, said Maj. Richard Greene, Corps officer in Salt Lake City.

The charity, which provides food boxes and feeds needy people throughout the year among other services, has experienced a downturn in giving due to multiple factors, Greene said. It has fewer red kettles stationed across the state, largely due to a smaller volunteer pool and a dearth of "good quality employees."

"Remember all the Salvation Army does in your community. With all of us working together we can make a difference. These vital services are needed more than ever. All of it (the funding) stays here locally," said Greene. 

Greene said he was optimistic once the community becomes aware of the Salvation Army's needs that people would contribute directly to bell ringers with kettles or make directions online at www.salvationarmyutah.org.

"People have always responded very well when they've heard about the need," he said.

Matt Minkevitch, executive director The Road Home, said December giving is very important to the year-round operations of the nonprofit that houses and serves homeless families and individuals. However, it is a little early to gauge holiday giving overall, he said.

More homeless families and individuals are seeking shelter at The Road Home this year compared to 2010, and the nonprofit needs coats, long underwear and socks.

"I don't want to press the panic button as far as cash donations go. We have tremendous faith in our community. We're counting on them to turn out for us this December."

After a challenging start to the holiday season, the giving of perishable food — including turkeys — has increased at the Salt Lake Community Action food pantry, said manager Danny Jasperson.

"Close to Thanksgiving, things started to look a little scary from our end of things. The community has really stepped up and our shelves are stocked," Jasperson said. "We're definitely in a better place than we were a couple of weeks ago."

Dan Schuler, who has organized Clearfield City's Sub for Santa efforts for the past five years in addition to his day job as a public works inspector, said donations were trickling in but a little slower than last year.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I think at this point last year, yes, it was a little better. Still, whatever we get makes someone's life a little better," he said.

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

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