Local News

Short on supplies

At this time last year, the Salvation Army had 50 bikes stored in a room off of its chapel, and another storage room now-turned office had gifts piled high and ready to be distributed to families in need.

Date: 12/10/2009

Posted by Salvation Army on 12/11/2009


By RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

Laurie Sisk/Telegram Salvation Army Auxiliary Capt. Louise Lurtz stands near a small pile of Christmas presents to be handed out to children this year. Donations are at about 10 percent of projected need so far this year. (Laurie Sisk/Telegram Salvation Army Auxiliary Capt. Louise Lurtz stands near a small pile of Christmas presents to be handed out to children this year. Donations are at about 10 percent of projected need so far this year.)

This year, Salvation Army Auxiliary Capt. Louise Lurtz has the toys packed in a closet off of the chapel, and what she has barely fills it.

Compared to last year, the number of families signed up and qualified to receive gifts as part of the Salvation Army's Angel Tree has increased.

This year, Lurtz said about 70 more families than last year are participating in the Angel Tree program, and will receive gifts.

She said 159 families with 586 children, are signed up to receive gifts. The waiting list has 72 families with 235 children.

The program provides new clothing and/or toys to children. The program involves Christmas trees being placed at various high-pedestrian traffic areas throughout town.

The trees are decorated with numbered paper tags with the needs and age group of the child listed on the tag.

Lurtz said the public can take a tag off the tree and purchase gifts for the children described on the tag.

The gifts don't have to be big and expensive, Lurtz said. The categories Lurtz finds toys for include infant, toddler, ages 3 to 5, 6 to 8, 9 to 11 and 12 to 17. To be eligible for the program, families fill out an application and must meet income guidelines.

The agency gives what it can, Lurtz said, adding she likes to try to provide every child with two toys, but this year there may only be enough for one. The parents also are provided with a bag from Hallmark with giftwrap, plates, napkins, etc. to help with the holidays.

Last year, each family on the waiting list was served. This year, Lurtz fears some may have to go without this Christmas.

Lurtz said eligibility depends on the ratio of income to expenses of the family. She said this year, with applicants, she hasn't seen many families with expendable income.

Lurtz, who has headed the Angel Tree Program for 14 years, attributes the state of the national economy to both the greater number of families participating in the program, and also the fewer number of people donating to the program.

She said although Finney County hasn't seen a sharp rise in unemployment, the national economic turmoil still effects the county. She said some people haven't lost their jobs but their hours have been reduced and they are making less money. Lurtz said everyone, no matter the socioeconomic level, has less expendable income, which puts more people in need and makes others less likely to donate.

"People are holding onto their money in the event of emergencies," she said.

Lurtz said she wants the public to know every donation, no matter how small, counts.

"Each gift blesses a family. The Christmas season is the season of giving. We all need to give from the bottom of our pockets," she said. "It doesn't have to be anything special, but it will make a child's Christmas," she said.

If donations still are skim as Christmas nears, Lurtz said the Salvation Army will pull from its monetary donations to purchase gifts, "as long as the money is there," Lurtz said.

The last scheduled day to donate is Monday, but Lurtz said with the number of gifts collected being small, people could still donate until Dec. 18. To find out how to donate, visit a tree site, the Salvation Army, 216 N. Ninth St., or call Lurtz at 271-4018.