Raleigh, N.C. — The economy may be on the slow march to recovery, but holiday seasons continue to come, year after year, with an increasing need for charity and steadily dwindling donations.
Toy donations were trickling into Salvation Army's warehouse in Raleigh Monday, but the charity was nowhere near filling boxes of donated goods for the 3,600 families it will serve this Christmas.
"It is tough being two or three weeks away from distribution and you look around the warehouse, and it's empty," said Salvation Army spokeswoman Haven Sink.
In order to give each child two or three gifts, the Salvation Army needs to collect 24,000 toys in the next two weeks.
The situation is also dire at Durham Rescue Mission, CEO Ernie Mills said.
"Right now we only have about 15 toys at the Rescue Mission," he said.
That means the mission needs to collect 12,000 toys in less than month to meet its donation goals.
Now, more than ever, Mills said, needy families rely on the gifts of charity.
"I am finding so many people who are coming to us who have lost hope. They look for jobs time and time again, and all they hear is 'No jobs, no jobs, no jobs,'" Mills said.
The gifts cannot fix a family's economic strain, but they can bring a little holiday cheer to people who are hurting more than ever.
"That's one of the things that I live for – to see the excitement on kids' faces," Mills said.
"Having a gift to open on Christmas Day is more than just having a toy," Sink said. "It's having a moment of joy on Christmas morning to share with your family."