Salvation Army reaches goal
Local charities are beginning to downshift as the holidays end, but that doesn’t mean that donations and assistance are no longer needed.
On Christmas Eve, The Salvation Army of Lee County announced that it reached its fund-raising goal even though economic factors continually put up a struggle this holiday season.
Officials from the organization said in early December that they feared the goal of $500,000 in the Red Kettle Program couldn’t be reached. Their goal increased by 10 percent from the year before, while overall need increased by 30 percent.
The Christmas Cheer Program, where needy families are allowed to “shop” for toys at The Salvation Army distribution center, is a prime example of the growing need this year. It ran through the month of December giving food and toys to 3,700 families.
Furthermore, 60 percent of the applicants for help this Christmas were families which have never asked for help before, according to The Salvation Army.
“We are grateful and humbled by the generosity of this great community,” said Major Art Penhale, corps officer of The Salvation Army of Lee County. “The residents in Southwest Florida continue to share their abundance with those in need.”
The organization reported reaching its goal earlier this week, but a final fund-raising amount won’t be available until later.
Jacquie Williams, spokesperson for The Salvation Army of Lee County, said the exact figures won’t be available until next week.
“On Wednesday morning we knew,” she said. “It was all through the Red Kettle Program.”
Red Kettle is the organization’s trademark fund-raising program where volunteers ring bells in front of stores and centers across the county. This month the Army reported not only fewer volunteers for the program but also fewer monetary donations in the red kettles.
It’s now waiting for some last-minute funding from community drives and kettle sponsorships including Chico’s and a number of individual sponsors. Fort Myers Toyota also donated a car that The Salvation Army used throughout the entire campaign.
Other assistance organizations are asking shoppers to donate some of those Christmas gifts they may be returning this weekend. Goodwill Industries, with three locations in Cape Coral, is always collecting used items.
Cape Coral residents can donate their goods and receive a deduction on their federal income taxes because Goodwill is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. But those items have to be donated by Dec. 31 to be included for the 2008 tax season.
“Cleaning out your closet is an easy way to invest in your community and, at the same time, get a tax break,” said Jennifer Swift, vice president of Retail and Operations for Goodwill Industries.
Goodwill accepts household items, furniture, toys, gently used clothing and even cars at its retail and donation centers.
Proceeds from the donations go to local services such as the job-link, Four Wheels for Work vehicle assistance and apartment complexes for seniors or people with disabilities.
“A good rule of thumb to follow when deciding what to do with your stuff is to ask yourself if you have used the items in a year. We like saying ‘If you don’t use it, lose it at Goodwill,'” said Swift.