Local agency officials are coping with shortages

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 23, 2002

The numbers of needy families continue to grow, according to Salvation Army Austin Corps officials.

Fifteen new families registered for assistance through Tuesday of this past week.

At the same time, The Salvation Army is forced to do more with less.

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Forty-one percent less, to be exact.

That's the shortfall faced at week's end by The Salvation Army.

According to Major Doug Yeck, officer in charge, "We're in big trouble."

Giving Tree projects, such as those at local churches, are helping, but The Salvation Army says more help is needed.

Earlier this week, The Salvation Army collected gifts for 41 families at Hormel Foods Corporation facilities in Austin.

The company's Adopt A Family program, perhaps the largest single program of its kind in the area, involved employees at the Austin plant, Corporate North and South and Research and Development facilities.

The outreach will help 126 children at Christmas.

Still, the requests for assistance keep arriving at The Salvation Army headquarters.

"A year ago, we helped 393 families with food baskets during the entire Christmas season," said Lori Espe, volunteer coordinator. "This year, we will help 455.

"A year ago, we distributed presents to 746 children. This year, the number is already at the 844 mark and there's more requests coming in."

According to Pat Wright, social services coordinator, the group's own Sharing Tree project was extended to meet the demand for assistance.

Despite the extra period, the project was declared over so presents purchased could be distributed before Christmas.

"There were 87 name-tags on the tree who never got any attention," Wright said.

That means, The Salvation Army will have to use funds to purchase gifts for those children, plus others in the waning days before the holiday.

"We expect people to come in Tuesday, the day before Christmas, needing help," said Espe. "They always do and all we can hope to do is the best we can with what's left."

For information about assisting The Salvation Army, call Espe or Wright at 437-4566.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at :mailto:lee.bonorden@austindailyherald.com