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Wichita nonprofit says it’s in dire need of food and coats as holiday approaches

Some area nonprofits are on track to meet their holiday goals, but at least one says it faces a “crisis” of needs.

Inter-Faith Ministry’s Operation Holiday needs a minimum of 100,000 food items to give away to low-income families in December, but now has only 43,000. Of that amount, 10,000 are beverages without any nutritional value.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in the 19 years or so that I’ve been in Operation Holiday,” said Ashley Davis, director of the program. “I’m just very concerned we will have very, very meager food bags this year in comparison to previous years. But we’ll give everything we have.”

The organization is also short by nearly 10,000 cans of soup, 7,000 proteins and, especially, peanut butter.

Davis said she thinks people are feeling crisis fatigue. There have been so many disasters this year that people are becoming immune to need, or have already given extensively, she said. There have also been fewer grant funds and they were not able to stock up in advance from the Kansas Food Bank as they have in previous years.

She also thinks the weather has been so warm that people haven’t thought about giving coats and blankets, something the program desperately needs.

Operation Holiday expects to serve more than 13,000 people with food, grocery gift cards, winter clothing and toys. Its distribution starts Thursday.

Craig Davis, director of community engagement at the Salvation Army in Wichita, said the organization is about $50,000 behind where it was at this same time last year in terms of finances.

The Salvation Army has a variety of Christmas programs, including its Angel Trees, where people “adopt” a child for Christmas.

Salvation Army wants to raise $1.4 million during the holiday season, about $400,000 of which is expected to come from its Red Kettles.

He also thinks the natural disasters in 2017 played a role in decreased donations.

Salvation Army has had an incredible response in terms of donations such as coats, gloves and hats, he said, but it is always in need of those items.

“We appreciate the amazing response of the community,” he said.

For other organizations working to spread Christmas cheer, the situation isn’t as dire.

Shelly Prichard, president and CEO of the Wichita Community Foundation, said Share the Season has brought in about $100,000 this year. It usually raises about $250,000 during the Christmas season, assisting 100 to 125 families who experience unexpected hardship but don’t qualify for other assistance.

Wendy Glick, executive director of Catholic Charities, said the group is about a quarter of the way to its $800,000 goal for the end of the year, about the same as previous years. Catholic Charities provides Christmas to the families in its two shelters.

It still is in need of gifts for children in the shelters and household items to help homeless families as they move into their new homes.

“We know that people are going to give and give generously. We just know that it tends to run right up against Christmas,” Glick said. “The sooner the better so we can plan. We want to make sure it’s a good Christmas for all those in our programs.”

Katherine Burgess: 316-268-6400, @KathsBurgess

How to help

▪ Catholic Charities, Diocese of Wichita, 437 N. Topeka, Wichita, 67202-2413, 316-264-8344, www.CatholicCharitiesWichita.org.

▪ Operation Holiday, 829 N. Market, Wichita, 67214, 316-264-9303, www.interfaithwichita.org.

▪ Share the Season. Send contributions to Share the Season at the Wichita Community Foundation, 301 N. Main, Suite 100, Wichita, KS 67202. 316-264-4880, www.sharetheseason.org.

▪ Salvation Army, 350 N. Market, Wichita, 67202, 316-263-2769, http://centralusa.salvationarmy.org/wichita.

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