Share the Season helps more than 100 families

This year's Share the Season campaign is beginning to wind down.

Donations will continue to be accepted through the holidays, but Tuesday marks the last day articles will appear in The Eagle highlighting area residents who need help to face unexpected hard times.

Fundraising started earlier this year than in the past, on Nov. 1 instead of on Thanksgiving Day.

"We felt the timing was better to start several weeks earlier," said Rob Allison, president and CEO of the Wichita Community Foundation, which created the program nearly a decade ago with the Salvation Army and the Wichita Eagle.

Share the Season has collected more than $93,000 so far this year, including the $20,000 the foundation provides annually in seed money.

Last year, it collected $190,000 by the end of the campaign.

All money raised goes to help local people in need.

"It helped people," Allison said. "If you look at it in a pure numeric basis, it is less than what we have had. But when you look at the unemployment rate, the economy, you cannot look at this campaign with pure numbers. You have to look at what you gave and what it did to help people."

So far this year, the program has helped 100 families, said Janet Delanty, Share the Season coordinator for the Salvation Army in Wichita.

Many received help paying for utilities, mortgages and car repairs.

"Some of the people have been very desperate, especially those needing help with mortgages," Delanty said.

Many more had to be referred to other programs.

"It's an unusual year for us," Allison said. "I know that Share the Season has fantastic appeal. Even though the numbers are lower at this point and time, it is still so important to so many people."

Since Share the Season began in 2000, it has helped more than 1,700 families with more than $1.3 million in donations.

One recipient this year wrote:

"We are now able to be back on track with everything and that really helps in such a big way!"