Donations spiral downward as economy hits sponsors and families alike
With donations down this fall, the folks at the Union County Christmas Bureau expected to battle to get enough toys, food and cash to provide Christmas for 2,000 needy families. They didn’t that would be the entire war.
The tough economy wreaked havoc not only on those who need help but also on those who usually sign up to help. On one day alone, Union County Social Services Volunteer Coordinator Gloria Haney lost sponsors for more than 40 children and two families.
Open since Oct. 25, the Christmas Bureau desperately needs groups to sponsor families and children, as well as donations of money, gently used or refurbished toys and coats. To feed the hungry, the group also is accepting non-perishable foods through Tuesday, Dec. 14, at which point the bureau will accept perishable food donations.
People might not be able to sponsoring a family by themselves, but the bureau hopes people will join forces with friends and neighbors to make a difference. “Groups, neighborhoods or churches can band together to sponsor families, gift trees or to fill stockings for children,” Haney said.
“This is a great time to clear out your toy room or attic,” she said. The group has volunteers willing to spruce up gently used items a bit.
“I have a volunteer who took all of our donated bikes that had something wrong with them and loaded them up on his truck,” Haney said. The man promises to have the bikes restored and in mint condition by Christmas Eve.
People can bring or mail tax-deductible donations to the Christmas Bureau, 2107 W. Roosevelt Blvd., Monroe, NC 28110.
Haney is extending the Christmas Bureau hours for maximum flexibility for donors. “We are open until 8 p.m. during the week and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays,” she said, “and I’m willing to meet anyone who wants to donate something at a time that’s convenient for them.”
A winter coat distribution went ahead as schedule Saturday, Dec. 4, but some needy folks walked away empty-handed when the coats ran out. “We are still in need of coats in all sizes,” Haney said.
The same is true for toys for teenagers and children 9 to 12 years old. “Kids that age love electronics,” Haney said, but she asks donors to only give items in good working order.
Donations both large and small, whether a $10 stocking from Big Lots near Monroe Crossing, or a small gift card from a local chain store, can make a huge difference.
Groups or individuals can sponsor a child by purchasing one entire new outfit and two toys – one small, one large – or sponsor a family that includes providing gifts for each child together with a grocery store gift card.
The Christmas Bureau staff hopes families don’t have to choose between paying a bill or provide a gift for their child this Christmas. With enough donations and sponsors, they won’t have to.