Food, toys needed to fill holiday demand

January 2, 2008 6:49:37 PM PST
Many Bay Area no-profit agencies that feed the homeless and needy families are reporting grim donation figures for this holiday season. Double digit drops in donations have organizations worried they won't be able to supply needed food and toys to families this year.

The Salvation Army has been ringing bells by its red kettles since 1891. This year, Richard Larson says it seems fewer people are hearing the call to donate.

"Division wide, we're down 15 percent on our kettles right now. San Francisco is about 17 percent down," says Valerie Johnson, charitable donor

Today, Salvation Army soldiers are collecting at Nordstroms at Valley Fair Mall in San Jose.

"The net is down because the minimum wages are up the cost of gas is up so the cost of doing business rises," says Jeffrey Dennis, Salvation Army.

Other non-profit charitable organizations are also coming up short. Stacks of crates, full of food, will soon leave the second harvest food bank in San Jose to needy families in Santa Clara and San Mateo. While it is a lot of food, it's not nearly enough. It's the lowest its been in 18 years.

"Right now we're about 800,000 pounds short of our food goal and $2 million dollars short of our financial goal," says Lynn Crocker, Harvest Food Bank.

Lynn Crocker echoed what many groups that feed the hungry are saying.

"People are feeling the pinch from the economy. Gas prices are up. People are losing their houses. There is a general sense of unease out there. People are holding on to what they have."

The news isn't all bad. Due to media attention, the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto says it has had a surge in donations. They are giving people like Manual Heredia enough food to feed his wife and three nephews for two weeks. The children's father is in jail and Manuel is unemployed.

"I feel good. I'm taking care of the kids and these people are a blessing helping us out," says Manuel.

Glide Memorial in San Francisco served 65,000 people this year but are down 14 percent in donations. All these organizations and others need help.


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