A recent survey of the nation's 400 largest charities shows that donations in 2010 have dropped 11 percent on average compared with 2009. The Salvation Army is included in that list of charities.
Consider these statistics from our service to the local community: We saw a 15 percent increase in the number of children provided school supplies at the start of the school year. In one day alone, we took 131 requests for utility assistance. On average, we provide grocery assistance to more than 950 people every month. During our "Mission of Hope" last Christmas, more than 8,600 children received gifts and nearly 21,000 individuals received gifts, food or household items.
Though the numbers are telling, the real story is found in the faces and voices of those we are called to serve.
Never before have we witnessed such uncertainty and fear. Clearly, the challenging economic climate is weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of your fellow Wichitans.
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As a member of the vast nonprofit community in Wichita providing social services, I would say: Never has there been such a need.
This is a call to arms, a fitting analogy for an officer of the Salvation Army. What can you do? The answer is simple: Donate this Christmas season.
There are many ways to donate, whether it's to the Salvation Army or any of the many charities and social service agencies in Wichita:
* Donate your money. At the Salvation Army, your dollars provide for immediate, day-to-day needs such as utility or transportation assistance and emergency and transitional housing programs. Your donations also support life-changing, life-directing programs for at-risk kids through youth programs, including youth residential services, Biddy Basketball and Camp Hiawatha.
* Donate your time. Agencies around Wichita are always in need of volunteers. At the Salvation Army, you can hand out groceries or hats and coats. You can help sort toys, household items and food at our "Mission of Hope" Christmas distribution center or sign up to be a "bell ringer."
* Pray. The Salvation Army has set aside Nov. 21 as a day of prayer for those in our community who are struggling. Pray for resilience in the broken spirits of these individuals and families. Pray for adequate resources for the Salvation Army and other agencies whose mission it is to serve those in need.
Finally, remember Jesus' words to his disciples in Matthew 25:40: "Whatever you did for one of the least of these... you did for me."