The Salvation Army Red Kettles and Angel Trees may have been taken down for the year, but the agency still desperately needs donations to ensure that citizens’ needs are met.
Mike Rodgers, captain of the Salvation Army in Surry County, said, “We continue to provide assistance every day.”
The Salvation Army gives out clothes, furniture, food and medicine to families in need and pays some utility bills. In January, assistance with heating bills will begin.
While donations to the agency usually go down after December, Rodgers said need often rises a bit in winter months.
“And we’ve been hit pretty hard this year so far, with people unemployed or having hours cut back at work,” explained Rodgers.
The number of families applying for Christmas assistance rose from 710 in 2008 to 1,100 in 2009.
But while the number of families in need rose, the number of donations went down. Rodgers said kettle donations were down by about $10,000 from the previous year. He said the snow storm was partially to blame for the decrease.
“We really lost a lot of funds that weekend ... Up to that point, we were pretty much matching with last year,” said Rodgers.
Fewer groups were able to man the kettles that weekend and not many people were out and about due to the snow.
The captain said programs that did about the same as last year were the mail appeal for donations and the Angel Trees. He did note that some other organizations were using the Angel Tree name, a patented term, which created some confusion. The food pantry also received an average amount of items, and the agency was able to provide 60 seniors with food boxes.
With November and December being the peak time for donations, Rodgers said money coming in generally will begin to decrease now. From May to September no checks usually come in.
Rodgers said, “When people go on vacations, so do their donations.”
To make it through the year, the Salvation Army blocks off money raised during the peak months for later use. But with donations down this holiday season, the year will be tough.
“That affects what we’re going to be able to do the rest of the year,” Rodgers said.
The Salvation Army Thrift Store in Mount Airy is also in need of more donations and patrons. Rodgers said since the store was moved to the corner of South South Street and Pine Street, not as many people have visited it.
“A lot of people still haven’t figured out where we are,” he said.
He said the store usually gets a small rise in donations at the end of the year and during spring cleaning time.
According to Rodgers, the things needed most by the Salvation Army are financial donations and continued support of the thrift store.
“We do provide direct assistance to people in the county every day,” he reminded.
The agency could also use more volunteers to help box up food at the food pantry and to sort through clothes at the thrift store. Rodgers said he is thankful for the people who have helped volunteer so far.
“We’ve been very pleased with the reception we’ve received, but we’re in a community where there’s a lot of need,” he said.
Surry County is the sixth station that Rodgers and his wife have served.
“This was our first Christmas here. It has been great, the outpouring of folks trying to help us,” Rodgers said.
He said it’s not a large county compared to some he has been to, but “the amount of people applying for help is staggering.”
Although the number of families in need this year rose, Rodgers said they were able to meet most of the needs. He is hopeful for 2010.
For more information about the Salvation Army in Mount Airy, call 786-4075.
Contact Meghann Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.