GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Salvation Army in Kent County is seeing more than a 20 percent increase in requests for food and gifts this holiday season. It comes as the agency is seeing a decrease in donations.
About 18,000 families are asking The Salvation Army for help this holiday season. That's about 3,000 more than last year, in need of support for food and gifts.
"We've noticed that the numbers are quite a bit higher than we expected," Grand Valley Area Commander Major Tim Meyer says. "Our funding is running behind last year by quite a bit, especially with the kettles. And we're in need of some help for people to help in that way, and to send in those donations as well."
He says they're specifically concerned with meeting the needs of kids age 9 to 11 and teenagers.
"That age group tends to be a little harder to buy for," Major Meyer says. "Specifically for teens, it's most helpful to have gift cards."
Their campaign goal is $1.7 million, which goes to their annual Christmas Assistance Program, and it's their main fundraiser.
"It helps us to keep our heat and lights on," Major Meyer says. "The cost of increase for us as well as those who we serve and the donors who are supporting us."
While he says the West Michigan community is always generous, he knows that everyone is feeling the pinch, making the decision of who to donate to, and how much more difficult this year.
"Even though gas prices seem to have leveled off a little bit, there have been a lot of expenses this year that were unexpected. Food prices remain to be fairly high. And so those necessities of life are taking up discretionary spending," Major Meyer says. "And people want to be sure that the dollars they give are going to causes that they can trust."
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