Lingering economic hard times have proven that poverty has many faces.
Major Donna Simms of the Salvation Army has seen that reality firsthand.
There has been an increase in demand and participation in Salvation Army programs by people who never imagined they would end up living in poverty.
After a job loss or serious illness, basic needs like food, transportation and clothing – which normally aren’t given a second thought – suddenly become real worries for families.
“We see these needs on a daily basis,” Simms said.
The Salvation Army’s annual Kettle Drive kicks off on Friday and Simms is encouraging the public to support the organization’s most significant fundraiser.
“Why should people give? The same reason I put money in the kettle,” Simms said. “Because I don’t know when I’ll be needing it. You just never know when it’s going to be you.”
Last year’s kettle drive raised $113,000, plus an additional $87,000 from a letter-writing campaign. Simms said the 2012 Christmas campaign must raise a minimum of $200,000 to simply maintain existing services such as the Mom and Tot Program, nutrition courses, cooking lessons, transit passes for low income families and the food bank at the Diana Street citadel.
These programs are in addition to Christmastime staples such as hamper delivery and the toy shop, where parents and grandparents who can’t afford to shop for their children can choose a donated toy free of charge.
Helping others with dignity has been the Salvation Army’s goal since its founding in 1865, Simms said.
“This is not their normal, everyday thing, to come into a food bank,” she said of the many new faces looking for assistance. “They are in a difficult time and we’re here to help.”
Simms is counting on city and county residents to once again open their hearts and wallets.
“We did it last year in very difficult economic times and we pray that we can meet that goal again,” she said.
The Salvation Army is consistently lauded by charity spending watchdogs for keeping costs low and funneling a high percentage of donations directly into programming. Nationally, 86 cents of every dollar is applied to services, with the percentage even higher locally, Simms said.
From Nov. 23 until Christmas Eve, kettles will be set up at retail locations across Brant. Businesses can also “adopt a kettle” for a day.