Attention shifted Thursday to the seasonal giving that matters far more than Halloween’s candy handout – the kind that largely happens in November and December but sustains the crucial work of area nonprofit organizations throughout the year.
In this rough economy, the need keeps growing. One sobering measurement, based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey, found that Wichita had the fourth-highest increase in child poverty among cities between 2005 and 2011.
Cuts in public funding for human services are further complicating and deepening the challenge – a point underscored at the Nonprofit Policy Summit held Tuesday at Wichita State University.
Sedgwick County Manager William Buchanan told the participants that from 2008 to 2011, the county had seen funding from the former Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services cut by 27 percent, or $1.75 million, while Medicaid waiver money for that period was reduced 32 percent, or $3 million.
Beth Oaks, vice president of community planning and resources for United Way of the Plains, spoke of a 6.3 percent cut, or about $3.2 million, in public money in 2012 affecting 35 nonprofit agencies that get funding from United Way.
Those looking to help can push United Way of the Plains toward the Nov. 16 finish line of its fall campaign, which aims to raise $15.6 million (an increase over last fall’s $15.2 million). To join those who’ve already given or find out about area holiday assistance programs, go to www.unitedwayplains.org.
Operation Holiday, sponsored by Inter-Faith Ministries, launched its 2012 effort Thursday, setting a special giving goal related to teens as part of its partnership with the U.S. Reserve Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. Operation Holiday also aims to raise $350,000 in cash and round up 100,000 food items and thousands of blankets, coats, scarves, mittens and hats (www.interfaithwichita.org).
Sunday’s Wichita Toy Run Rally in the Historic Delano District will offer another way to help, as area motorcyclists update their 32-year tradition of accepting unwrapped toys and cash donations to benefit Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army and the Kansas Food Bank (www.wichitatoyrun.com).
The Salvation Army officially will kick off its Christmas fundraising at 6:15 p.m. Nov. 9 at Old Town Square, looking to serve the community through its Mission of Hope Campaign, Angel Tree and Star of Hope programs, Share the Season partnership with the Wichita Community Foundation and The Eagle, and more (missionofhope.salvationarmy.us).
Catholic Charities, Episcopal Social Services, United Methodist Open Door, the YMCA, the Lord’s Diner and the Bread of Life are among the organizations that also have special activities planned on behalf of the needy between now and the end of year.
So the opportunities to give abound.
It will take even more than the always impressive generosity on the part of south-central Kansans to ensure that these groups meet their goals and can serve their missions.