on December 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Helping families during the holidays not an easy feat for Salvation Army

The Salvation Army isn’t where it would like to be this holiday season.

Last year, its bell ringing, red kettle program broke all previously set records — but so far this year, that’s not the case.

And while the kettle program is only one staple effort of the Salvation Army, other areas are falling behind too, said Captain Rick Langley.

“We’ve been changing things a bit since I started here,” he said. “But, we are really starting to get concerned. Donations are down; volunteers are down.”

And in addition to needing more assistance across the board, representatives from the Salvation Army are looking for a warehouse that will make their Christmas programs possible.

“We have a warehouse out on U.S. 130,” he said. “But there were traffic accidents last year during our pick-up days. We can’t have that happening again.”

Longtime volunteer Curtis Lane said anyone willing to open up his or her space could write it off as a tax exemption.

“We just need something safer,” Lane said. “It’s just not conducive to the amount of people who will be coming by.”

And while downsizing has been the daily theme this past year, the Salvation Army isn’t carrying a protective shield.

“We’ve been impacted,” Langley said. “So much so that, this year, families can either sign up for holiday food or for the angel tree. We just don’t have enough to do both, sadly.”

But the needy community may just be the most understanding.

“When they came in to sign up, not one of them questioned or complained about the change,” he added. “They know how tight things are, but they remain very appreciative and that’s always nice.”

This year, instead of boxes of Thanksgiving dinners, the Salvation Army teamed up with Bi-Lo to offer gift cards, where a family can load up on their grocery store favorites.

“That way, they have a choice of what they want,” Langley said. “Last year, we had 100 boxes of food left over. This year, there wasn’t one card that didn’t get picked up. Plus, it saves energy and allows us to focus on other holiday needs.”

And while various angel trees are set up around Oconee County, Langley added that many angels aren’t being adopted.

“When times were so tough last year, people came out in scads, realizing the serious need,” he said. “Things haven’t gotten better for a lot of these families, and we really need the community’s help. Instead of a few people doing a lot, let’s get everyone involved to do a little. This could be the difference between a child having a Christmas or not having one.”

Cash donations can be sent to the Salvation Army Office at 109 Debra St., Seneca, 29678. Toys maybe dropped off there as well. Those moved to help may call (864) 882-1160 for more information.

jsibley@dailyjm.com | (864) 882-2375