Charities struggle to meet demand this holiday season

Posted December 13, 2010

— Christmas is just around the corner, and local charities still need donations to provide holiday assistance for struggling families.

One in six North Carolinians lives in poverty, and with unemployment and underemployment still high, the need is greater than ever.

The Salvation Army distributes toys, money, clothing and food to ease financial stress on families, but this year, the organization has been forced to turn people away.

"We had a little over 200 new families this year, first time ever, apply for holiday assistance," said Debbie Avolin, director of social services for the Salvation Army in Durham, Orange and Person counties. "We're averaging over 40-plus calls a day (from) individuals we're having to turn away."

Economic hardship ups demand for holiday help Economic hardship ups demand for holiday help

Employees at Triangle businesses donated thousands of toys for needy children, but it's just not enough.

"(Local businesses) have really come together again for us this year," Avolin said. "Everybody's resources are so limited... It's just a tough time for everybody right now."

In Wake County alone, the Salvation Army still needs 5,000 new toys for the children it serves. Kettle donations are on par with last year, but they fall short of the increased demand.

The Salvation Army isn't the only charity struggling to meet recession-era needs.

Food banks like the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle report that they are currently able to meet demand but may fall short when children are home from school around Christmas.

Jill Stanton Bullard, executive director of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, said the organization expects to feed more than 5,000 people every day through the end of 2010.

"That's a lot of people in need," she said. "For the people we care about, the people we work with day in and day out, the recession's not over."


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  • newsmonkey Dec 14, 2010

    It has been reported that a Salvation Army center in Canada was turning away Harry Potter and Twilight items. Just do a web search for "Salvation Army Harry Potter Twilight" and you'll see lots of articles and blog posts about it. It prompted Salvation Army officials to release an official statement that they have no organization-wide prohibition against those items, however they do leave it up to their people at the local level to make their own call on the matter.

    I usually have my kids pick names off of the angel tree and then we go shopping for them together. But this year their angel tree tags were mislabeled with an incorrect deadline, so we missed it. We did however do our Toys for Tots donation, which is still being accepted until the 18th.

  • artist Dec 14, 2010

    All this has gotten out of hand and is not helping America.

    Give only to those you know... those who are truly in need and you know your money/gifts/clothing goes directly to help the DESERVING.

    Being poor is not an excuse for assistance.

    Being poor is not a shameful attribute!

    (NewsFlasH: Having a car, a cell phone and only 35 channels is poverty in U.S.)

    Face it... you give these items with love and compassion... but most end up where they should not... going to people who do not need or deserve it. It is not your responsibility to make some bad parents kid feel better.

    Have you actually been to these charity centers that give away your stuff to the "needy"? Do you see these poor souls drive up in their cars, talking on their cell phones while waiting for their handout?

    Same old stance..."I'd rather give away 99 gifts to the undeserving if only 1 kid that needs it actually gets a Xmas present". Bad mindset.

    Give it to the kids YOU KNOW need

  • akgibson20 Dec 13, 2010

    For those families who are hurting terribly financially there are small ways to cut what you spend. Even for those on food stamps it is imperative that you stretch it as far as you can. is a non-profit that offers food for a significantly lower price than you would otherwise pay. It is restaurant grade food, not out of date or dented cans, etc. and you can feed a family for about a month on about $165. At least the kids won't go hungry AND they accept food stamps. As for Christmas, I agree, it is time for families to begin teaching that it is less about receiving, and to do something the other 11 months of the year. It's sad for the kids that they have to listen to what other kids get and somehow wind up feeling that they are less worthy.

  • whistler411 Dec 13, 2010

    I took an angel from the tree at Triangle Town Center. There were no requests for toys on any of them. They all had clothing sizes. I bought three outfits, a coat, some underclothing, and three inexpensive toys. But again, there was not any request for toys.

  • harmstrong4 Dec 13, 2010

    In the parking other day..loading up groceries. Lady comes up and says they are from Charlotte and car was broken into and they lost their money and credit cards, etc. I said why was your money and credit cards in car and not with you? She said a very nasty word to me and jumped into car and left. lol

  • RB-1 Dec 13, 2010

    htomc - "Just make sure you don't give any Harry Potter toys, or Twilight material. The Salvation Army, in their alleged concern to give toys to kids, will take these sorts of toys and throw them in the dumpster."

    I'd like to see proof of that please in the way of a online link, etc., cause I've seen Harry Potter books in Salvation Army's stores.

  • Deb1003 Dec 13, 2010

    Our budget is being stretched beyond our limit. I wish I could do more. We took some barely worn clothes and donated canned goods to our local mission.

  • RB-1 Dec 13, 2010

    And by the way, the popup about the Walmart $100 gift card downloads the Artemis virus to your computer, whether you click it or not, and it's hard to get rid of.

  • RB-1 Dec 13, 2010


    Try Google Chrome. It cut them to the quick.

    Internet Explorer was just letting them through. I tried Foxfire, and it did the same. But Google Chrome worked for me, and I see them no more.

  • RB-1 Dec 13, 2010

    Apex Man - "In Fayettville one family (4 kids) received over $800 from the program where cops take kids shopping. The angel trees often have requests for gifts that cost hundreds of dollars."

    The program where cops take kids shopping is so much per kid, so a larger family would receive more than a smaller one. But I do understand what you're saying. During years when less is received to disburse, reduce the amount given per child so that more child will receive.

    As for the Angel Trees, those are requests made by children. If someone asked you what you wanted, wouldn't you WANT something more costly than you actually NEED?

    Personally, I'd WANT a red Maseratti when what I NEED is any color Ford or Chevy.

    But they ask the kids for their input too, and that's why expensive stuff is on their list. Those kids probably know they're already going to get underwear and socks from their parents.