News / USA

American Charities Face Increased Demand During Holiday Season

The Salvation Army charity provides gifts for free through its Angel Tree program.
The Salvation Army charity provides gifts for free through its Angel Tree program.

What many commentators refer to as "The Great Recession" in the United States officially ended more than a year ago. But like people all over the world, a great many Americans are still struggling financially. One indication of just how bad things really are is the number of people who are still turning to charities for help.

There's been a steady stream of people all morning filing in and out of a warehouse in downtown Nashville. They are there to pick up Christmas presents for their children, presents they cannot afford to buy themselves. The Salvation Army charity provides the gifts for free through its Angel Tree program. Major Rob Vincent, the area commander, says he's seeing some new faces this year.

Angel Tree program is run by Salvation Army. Major Rob Vincent is the area commander
Angel Tree program is run by Salvation Army. Major Rob Vincent is the area commander
"For the first time, in their lives for some, they've had to look for help. They've had to make some hard decisions - making sure the bills were paid - so Christmas is going to have to be small or non-existent this year," Vincent explained.

Tia McCoy and her family of four are facing some of those hard choices. McCoy's husband lost his construction job two years ago when the market for new homes suddenly slowed to a crawl.

"We've been so behind on the bills, and sometimes it's hard just to have enough food in the house. If it wasn't for the Angel Tree and the people that volunteer their time here -- they don't get paid for this -- and it's because of them that our babies are going to have our babies are going to have a Christmas," McCoy said.

It'll be a very practical Christmas. While Angel Tree provides some toys, it concentrates more on the things children need most.

American Charities Face Increased Demand During Holiday Season
American Charities Face Increased Demand During Holiday Season
"For my daughter I asked for diapers, some wipes, just basic necessities," McCoy said. "For my son I asked for a new pair of shoes, a new coat, and maybe some learning toys."

A warehouse filled with more than 12,000 presents -- wrapped in protective black plastic -- means the McCoy children will not be the only ones with presents under the tree on Christmas morning.  But the recession has had an impact on charitable donations, and that has left the Salvation Army struggling to meet the increased demand for charitable services.  Major Vincent says the Nashville Command used to get just 500 calls a month for help .

"That number spiked to over 5,000 a month at times, during the hardest times, but it's leveled off.  We get about 2,000 to 2,400 calls every month now -- for almost three years -- of people asking for help because they're struggling," Vincent said.

Charities nationwide are facing similar circumstances. Lewis Lavine, president of Tennessee's Center for Non-Profit Management, points to increased need coupled with the downturn in contributions.

"Nationally, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, giving last year was down 11 percent," Lavine said. "In Nashville, for example, most of the social service agencies have seen their budgets reduced by 10 to 20 percent. So what that means is that they've cut back to their core mission, some have reduced staff, some have reduced benefits.  All have tried to provide the level of services that they can, but it's been a struggle for them."

Major Vincent and Tia McCoy agree that one of those core missions is to simply remind struggling Americans that they're not alone.

"Letting them know that the community is caring about where they are and what they're going through right now; providing hope to these families on this holiday season," Vincent stated.

"There's always hope," added McCoy. "Even when we've been at our lowest, there's always been hope."

With the economy still limping along, American charities will likely be called on to provide still more of that hope next Christmas.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid