Charities feel pinch

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 2, 2002

Features Editor

Contributions to agencies that benefit Pike County were down in 2001, and organizers said the impact will soon be felt in limited or eliminated services during 2002.

The Salvation Army, the Pike County Christmas Program and the United Way all reported below normal contributions during 2001, especially during the last quarter.

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Cindy Duke, director of the Pike County Salvation Army Service Center, said donations made to the Red Kettle campaign this year were down considerably. Last year, the kettle campaign raised $13,000 for Pike County. This year, the total will be between $9,000 and $10,000.

"You might think that being $3,000 or $4,000 down isn’t all that much," Duke said. "But, for us, it’s a lot."

The kettle campaign is the basis for the Salvation Army’s social services which provide assistance with such things as utility bills, rents and prescription bills.

"What that means is that a lot of people who are already needing help won’t get it, and that the criteria for getting assistance will now be very restrictive," she said. "We really were hoping to raise more this year than last because the needs are greater this year, with the economy being the way it is. Some people got laid off right before Christmas and came to us with needs. It’s sad when you don’t have the financial resources to help people when

they come to you."

Mashone Fleming, chairperson of the Pike County Christmas Program, said because financial assistance was down, the program was able to help only 60 families, 24 foster children and the 10 girls at the Troy group home this year, compared to 200 familes and children last year.

What hurt the most was the loss of revenue from the United Way, Fleming said.

"In the past, we have gotten $11,000 from the United Way, but this year we got $1,000 and that does limit what we can do," Fleming said.

Jane Thrash, secretary for United Way in Pike County, echoed concerns for the year ahead and predicting a 50 percent shortfall in donations.

"In 2001, $76,000 was pledged and we needed $100,000 to meet the needs," she said. "This year, we need $110,000 and we have received corporate and individual pledges totaling $20,000. We still have payroll deductions that will be added, but we probably will not reach 50 percent of what we need."

The United Way supports 15 agencies in Pike County. "The allocations would be drastically cut to the Red Cross, the Boy Scouts, the Pike County Firefighters, the Salvation Army and the list goes on," Thrash said. "The United Way is critical for all of us. None of us know when we will be on the receiving end of the line, so we should all give what we can."

Duke, Fleming and Thrash attributed the low level of contributions in part to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and to the economy.

"People gave to relief funds after the terrorists attacks, but none of that money stayed in Pike County," Thrash said. "We have needs here that must be addressed and met. The only way we can do that is through the generosity of our own people."

Even though the money isn’t coming in as needed, the women all agreed that Pike Countians still have their hearts in the right place.

Many Pike Countians volunteered to ring bells for the Salvation Army during the holiday season and donations are being made to the service center.

The Troy Public Library’s Teen Board donated books to the Pike County Christmas Program. Charles Henderson High School and New Life Christian Academy donated 3,000 cans of food. And Pike County Elementary School’s faculty support the program by giving toys to needy families rather than exchange personal gifts.

And, the United Way is expecting its financial status to improve with the reporting of the payroll deductions.

"People have big hearts and they want to do what they can for others," Duke said.

"Things are tight now for many people, but I know the people of Pike County and I believe that our needs will be met."