12/20/10 — Charities face tough season for donations

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Charities face tough season for donations

By Phyllis Moore, Steve Herring, Catharin Shepard & Gary Popp
Published in News on December 20, 2010 1:46 PM

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For the second year in a row, Spring Creek Baptist Church has distributed gifts to children at the Community Soup Kitchen. However, this year representatives of the church, Jeanetta Singleton, Nikki Wood, Bobbie Jo Ferrell and Rosanne Jones, came to the soup kitchen to help give away presents. Jeanetta Singleton gives a gift to Jona Lopez while her brother, Kevin Batolon, watches.

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St. James Church of God adopted 12 families for the Christmas season. Led by the Usher Board, food was gathered for donation. Above, church member Lula Mae Sutton unpacks donations and puts them in piles to be repacked and distributed.

With much of the Wayne County community still feeling the effects of the economic downturn, local charities have run into hard times as they seek to assist the needy at Christmas.

But press on they have, and to the credit of thousands of generous Wayne residents, most are managing to deliver on their promise of a helping hand.

The Department of Social Services has managed to keep pace with some of the needs among its clientele this holiday season, said Director Debra Jones.

The "Angel Tree" program, soliciting gifts for those in foster care, has done remarkably well, she said.

"We have about 86 in foster care and we did a tree at the mall and at our foster adoption appreciation event in November, and we also did it again at the department's employee luncheon last week. We don't have all the children adopted out for Christmas, but we do have two-thirds, so we're in pretty good shape there."

Monetary donations offset the need, Ms. Jones said, and often come in from those who have previously been in foster care themselves.

And then there are those who have aged out of foster care, or are "adult wards" of the program.

"(Almost 40) elderly and disabled adults who are unable to make decisions for themselves, they have a guardian, or we are their guardians," Ms. Jones said. "We provide a fairly nice Christmas for those individuals."

Another way Social Services helps people is with paying heating bills. The crisis intervention program comes from federal dollars.

"We have been very, very blessed in that program and actually, for the last two years, with the economy, people really are needing help," she said. "And of course, food stamps, people are applying like crazy, and we're about spent out in crisis funds right now.

"We will be getting more money but that's not going to come in until January. We're tapped out on that one."

Donations are still being accepted and are tax-deductible. Anything received after the holidays will be kept in an account for next Christmas, Ms. Jones said.

Checks can be mailed to Wayne County Deptartment of Social Services, 301 N. Herman St., Dept. HH, Goldsboro, NC 27530.

The Community Soup Kitchen "pretty much has everything" that will be needed to provide holiday meals, said Doricia Benton, director of the Soup Kitchen, one of the county's chief charities. "The community has embraced us to the fullest. People have done canned food drives for us. It is beautiful. It is just beautiful."

She noted however, that the kitchen could use donations of turkeys and hams. And she reminded residents that the kitchen serves the needy all year, not just at the holidays. Donations are always welcome, she said.

The Soup Kitchen prepared 20 turkeys and served 170 people on Thanksgiving Day -- a record. Ms. Benton said she is planning for that many again at Christmas.

Another local charitable mainstay is the Salvation Army. Although its bell ringers have been out for a few weeks now, the organization's kettle campaign is running about $3,000 behind where it was this time last year.

"The kettle effort is really struggling," said Maj. Andrew Wiley, the Salvation Army commander. "Part of the problem is the cold weather, because the weather has been unbearable. We can't ask people to stand out in a 20-degree wind chill to ring the bell. Every day we are not able to man a location is a loss for us."

And although the donations have decreased, the need has not. Maj. Wiley said the Salvation Army has 1,000 children it needs to provide toys for.

"I believe people in the community are willing to support our effort," he said. "But people aren't out in the cold shopping and ringing the bell. We need the community to rally around us to help us make it a successful year. If folks are out and can give, we need them to do that."

The kettle campaign ends the afternoon of Christmas Eve.

Although the kettle campaign is lagging behind, the Salvation Army's Angel trees have done well.

"We had three less Angel Trees out this year," Maj. Wiley said. "But the trees that we did have out, the response to those was good."

He said he's aware of only a couple of names left on the trees. But the deadline for taking names off the trees has now passed because the Salvation Army needs time to process the gifts before giving them out to needy children.

Wiley noted that the JCPenney online Angel Tree did very well.

"The response for that to be a first-time project was good," he said. "It seemed to really catch on."

At the Family Y, the "Y's Men" program has raised about $12,000 in cash and gift cards as well as food that will help around 40 families have a merrier Christmas.

"It is pretty neat," said Darren Goroski, senior program director at the Family Y. "It has been very successful."

The program, headed up by Kriquette Davis, associate executive director at the Family Y, offers three ways that people may contribute -- donations of cash, gift cards or food.

Cash donations totaled $6,989 as of Dec. 15. Another almost $5,000 in gift cards have been donated as well. The $12,000 does not include the value of the food donated, Goroski said.

People were asked to donate gift cards between Nov. 11 to Dec. 11 of at least $25 in value from the larger local retail and grocery stores. The cards were accepted in lieu of membership sign-up fees of $150 for a family or $100 for an individual.

"We have a couple of hundred new members," Goroski said.

Wayne Uplift, the Boys and Girls Club and Goldsboro Pediatrics helped provide the names of the children and their families for the program, Goroski said.

The Angel Tree the Wayne County Humane Society set up at the mall did well.

"It was very successful," Humane Society president Barrett Parker said. "But there is still a need. If you take an ornament off the tree, you'll see it has an item on it. You bring that item back to a donation box in center court at the mall by Dec. 22."

The pet photos with Santa fundraiser the Humane Society held was a success, raising $500.

The Humane Society is still selling 2011 pet calendars for $5 to raise money. They are available at Pet Supplies Plus, Circle Tire and Gas and Berkeley Vet Clinic.

"We've had a very successful 2010 as far as support from community donations," Ms. Parker said. "But there's always a need for community donations to help low-income families help pay for spaying/neutering and food and help pay for educational programs. We will survive in 2011 if those donations continue."