Economy squeezes holiday giving in Yuba-Sutter
U.S. Marine Reserve Toys for Tots, Yuba-Sutter
When: Through Dec. 24
Where:Toys can be dropped off at 44 collection boxes in the Yuba-Sutter area. For a list of sites, visit www.kubaradio.com.
CHiPs for Kids, Yuba-Sutter
When: Through Dec. 20
Where: Yuba-Sutter California Highway Patrol office, 1619 Poole Blvd., Yuba City. Call 674-5141 for more information.
When: Through Dec. 24
Where: Buckets are at various Yuba-Sutter businesses, including Walmart, Raley's and post offices in Yuba City and Marysville.
Holiday giving is way down, and a lot of kids aren't going to get Christmas gifts, according to local nonprofits.
"Our donations last week were almost nothing," said Helen Dodson, senior volunteer with CHiPs for Kids, "almost nonexistent."
It was a crucial week for Yuba-Sutter charities collecting and divvying holiday gifts. Three major ones said they're not close to their goals, let alone satisfying the need.
"We feel really bad," Dodson said. "It's been very difficult to tell people you can't help them."
It's the most recent example of a classic struggle for nonprofits. A bad economy squeezes budgets just as it sends more people in greater need to food banks, churches and shelters.
"Our pantry has been overrun with need," said Capt. Thomas Stambaugh, who runs the Salvation Army's Yuba-Sutter Corps.
People aren't putting as much into the 17 red buckets dotting Yuba City and Marysville, Stambaugh said. Volunteers collected $41,000 by this time last year but have only received $34,000 so far this year, a 17 percent drop
During the holidays, that money buys toys for kids along with a 30-pound box of food and a $15 gift card for families to buy meat for Christmas dinner.
Cash collected during the giving season tides over the Yuba-Sutter Corps over beyond the holidays, however. Without more money, organizers will have to cut programs in 2012. Year-round help includes food, money for rent and utilities and a 67-bed shelter-of-last-resort.
The local Toys for Tots Drive gave gifts to 2,800 kids last year, which included helping 15 other charitable efforts, said Bob Harlan, area coordinator for the Yuba-Sutter Marine Reserve Toys for Tots Drive. The organization cut help to about half of them this year, and cut the number of gifts they sent in half as well. Right now, the nonprofit has enough gifts for 1,000 kids.
"It's just scratching the surface," said Harlan, who said this year's need is "easily double" what nonprofits can handle, even if they do meet their goals.
And time is running out, he added. The Salvation Army, CHiPs for Kids and Toys for Tots plan to distribute their gifts early next week, so they're all in "a real crunch."
CHP volunteer Dodson sounded worried Monday afternoon but said she believes things will work out, despite the slow start.
"I just have to believe the Lord's going to provide for each child," she said.
Dodson was prescient. Someone came into her office Monday afternoon while she was on the phone. The person donated clothes.
"Oh my goodness!" Dodson said. "How wonderful!"
She hopes her clairvoyance continues.
CONTACT reporter Jonathan Edwards at 749-4780.