The Salvation Army of Independence ended its Christmas fundraiser approximately 10 percent under goal, according to Major Corps Officer Ken Shiels, and is looking at cutting its summer youth program.
“Our goal was about $220,000, and I think we raised maybe $115,000,” confirmed Shiels.
The Christmas fundraiser consisted of the classic bell ringers and kettles, along with more direct monetary donations, and is the largest fundraiser performed by the organization.
“The Christmas campaign funds everything we do,” said Shiels. “It’s a catch all, from the children’s program to the bread line to the shelter.”
In response to the 10 percent deficit, the Salvation Army of Independence is considering directing participants who normally engage in the summer program, a three-hour block, to other programs in the city.
“We have a small group of people that participate in our program,” said Shiels. “We’re encouraging them to check out the Boys Club, the Girls Club and see if it suits them because we’re not sure we’re going to have a summer program.”
This gap in funding, according to Shiels, is due to a lack of larger donations usually made through checks.
“Where we’re really hurting is in what we’re calling unrestricted donations,” said Shiels. These unrestricted donations are those given to the organization’s general fund to be used where needed.
“This is the difficult time of the year when budgets get very tight; donations seem to dry up a bit during this time of the year. I’m not sure if that’s because people forget about the Salvation Army, but we’re a year-round organization. We need funding throughout the year,” added Shiels.
The team is also short staffed, with several key positions needing to be filled, and also in-kind donations – goods or services are given instead of funds – are down, with less food coming from Harvesters, the community food network. However this doesn’t mean the organization is doing less to help the people who come through the line.
“We’re dispensing it (food) to the folk coming through the line. They still get help, but we don’t have as much as we’ve had in the past,” said Shiels.
Shiels encouraged the community to know that no donation is too small, and even a can of coffee is appreciated.
“It’s usually just in time for us to serve coffee on the bread line,” he said. “Those small donations are not something we can just shake a stick at. They’re very important to what we do and very often mean the difference between somebody walking away with what they need and having to leave with empty hands.”
That being said, the most important gift the Salvation Army can receive right now is funds to keep things running smoothly.
“Right now it’s cash donations to keep the staff paid. While we don’t pay a whole lot of money to staff, we do need to pay them,” Shiels said.
With funds and staff down, the team is being careful with what it has, while being sure to meet the needs of the people looking to them for help.