Hurricane donations deplete local food banks

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    By Bonnie Boyd

    With the beginning of holiday cheer just around the corner, the Salt Lake Community Action Services and the American Red Cross are tight on funds due in part to recent natural disasters.

    The season is the start for many of donating to charities that help the less fortunate, however, the Salt Lake Community Action Services is concerned about the low amount of donations and attributes it to the many hefty bills coming to people.

    ?We have had very few donations,? said Cathy Hoskins, executive director of the Salt Lake and Tooele County-based Community Action Program. ?I think it?s because of gas prices, hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the rise in unemployment.?

    Community Action agency workers donated a half-day?s salary to the hurricane victims now living in Camp Williams, Hoskins said. The government said it promised to reimburse the organization in time.

    ?We are very concerned,? Hoskins said. ?Donations will be down, which will ultimately cause suffering.?

    The Provo division of the American Red Cross also reports low donations, attributing it to the recent disastrous hurricanes.

    ?For a family who is sitting on the curb of the street in Provo or Orem watching their home go up in flames, losing everything that they own is just as tragic,? said Garr Judd, executive Director of the Mountain Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.

    Donations are down from last year and they are worried it will hurt Utah County in the month ahead, said Nancy Housekeeper, the office manager for the Provo division of the American Red Cross.

    Housekeeper said she believed most people who usually donate have been spending their money to aid other charities exclusively set up for hurricane victims.

    Yet other charities are seeing donations coming in strong.

    The Food & Care Coalition, which serves the needs within Utah County, is excited for the up-coming holiday season.

    ?We are up from last year across the board,? said Brent Carne, executive director of the Friends of the Coalition and a BYU alumnus. ?We don?t compile numbers until the end of the year, but we are attached to the community and my feeling is there are enough resources.?

    Carne said that he believed their secret to success was being tied to a good community, not the government.

    ?They [community members] aren?t aware of us just in the holidays, but all year long,? Carne said.

    The Salt Lake Salvation Army is also reporting a good year, but links it to hurricane relief.

    ?Were doing slightly better this year,? said James Sullivan, Salt Lake base coordinator. ?A flood of donations to support the national effort to aid victims and Camp Williams has come in.?

    Two hundred apartments with furnishings were given to hurricane evacuees at Camp Williams. While donations given directly to the Salt Lake City community are slightly down, Sullivan said he thinks it will be fine in the end.

    Between the high cost of living and the many competing charities, it seems to be a toss up for which charity the money is given and how much people are able to donate.

    ?Our fear is that as a result of the generous outpouring for the victims of the recent hurricanes, that local efforts will be further handicapped,? Judd said. ?Let?s not forget those in our own communities.?

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