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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid