Some charities finding season less giving than usual

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Salvation Army ringer Dave Garza thanks Randy Lee of Clovis for his donation outside Wal-Mart. Garza has been a ringer for 10 years and said he does it because he enjoys seeing and helping people.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Fundraising during the holiday season is taking local non-profits for a roller coaster ride.

The Salvation Army is struggling to fill red kettles while United Way of Eastern New Mexico’s fundraising is up 3 percent.

Maj. Tammy Ray with the Salvation Army said the kettles have raised $6,000 less than the same time last year.

Ray said the lackluster numbers are a result of the weather and shortages of volunteers and locations.

“When it’s horribly cold out, we can’t put people out and people don’t want to rummage around in their purse for change or a dollar,” Ray said.

There are three kettle locations this year. Ray said previous years have had as many as 6. The non-profit lost one of its most valuable locations when Albertson’s made a corporate decision not to allow a ringer in front of the Clovis store.

Ray said many local businesses have offered to host a kettle and ringer in front of their business. But because volunteers are also low, the traffic has to bring in more than what the organization has to pay someone to stand at a kettle.

“It’s just a challenge. Every year it gets more and more challenging,” Ray said.

Ray said while donations are down, need is up.

“We have more kids on our angel tree than we’ve had in quite some time,” she said.

Ray said the kettle campaign raised about $35,000 last year and provides relief for people in the community.

The non-profit’s Empty Stocking fund is also running low. The fundraiser has raised $3,576 with 11 days left. Last year, the program raised $8,100 total and served less people than this year.

The United Way of Eastern New Mexico is facing different challenges.

The organization’s fundraising season begins in September and runs through January. Erinn Burch, executive director, said this year’s campaigns have evened each other out. Some have raised more than last year, others have come up short.

“I don’t think we’ll hit our goal but I think we’ll do better than last year,” Burch said.

The United Way of Eastern New Mexico goal is $580,000. The non-profit raised $530,000 last year. In 2009, UNENM funded 44 programs at 17 organizations.

“This year, it seems to me that most people are feeling generous because of the state of the rest of the nation. We’re haven’t seen the same amount of job loss as the rest of the nation and they’re trying to show that they’re grateful,” Burch said. “On one hand, people are feeling insecure. On the other hand, people are saying ‘we’re doing OK, we need to give back so everyone can do OK.’”

The Lighthouse Mission is short on gifts as it gears up for the largest children’s Christmas party in the city, according to director Jerri Gomez. Gomez said the party gives presents to 700 children a year.

“We haven’t taken inventory,” Gomez said, adding but she knows the mission is lacking presents for girls and boys ages 9-13.

“We have a good community and God takes care of all our needs,” Gomez said.