Charities struggle with recession - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Charities struggle with recession

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Charities continue to struggle through the recession. In fact, The Salvation Army was forced to close its Albany office today due to a lack of personnel and funding cuts.

The Salvation Army in Atlanta won't a open its nearly-finished new homeless shelter, because there's no money to operate it. As more people lose their jobs, The Food Bank of Southwest Georgia is overwhelmed. They've had to turn away families looking for assistance through their Manna program.

The number of people coming here to the Salvation Army's evening meal has doubled in the last year. They now serve about 80 meals a night and say without volunteers from local churches they couldn't make it happen.

It's not a holiday, but the Salvation Army's office in Albany was locked. Cutbacks forced them to close the office, forcing those in need to try again.

"When one employee is on vacation and you've had to cut back on your staff that means it leaves you very short handed to be able to operate and to meet the administrative demands for some services," said Captain Doug McClure, The Salvation Army.

Just like many who've lost their jobs, they've been dealt a five percent cutback in funds from the United Way and they've lost close to $45,000 in grants from the federal government all the while getting more requests for utility assistance and feeding twice as many people as they were a year ago.

"We don't have items for the family store if no one gives us items to put in the family store and so it's not just donations of clothes and furniture, but it's also with money as well. We try one of my pledges this year no matter what the economic situation is where going to do the basic things and do what we do well," said McClure.

It's no different at the Food Bank of Southwest Georgia where workers continue to fill boxes for their Manna Truck Food Distribution, that's been a little too successful.

"When we leave a county from a site where we just distributed, they're asking when are we coming back because everybody didn't get served," said Tony Hall, Food Bank of Southwest Georgia Executive Director.

Too often they've left more than 100 families wondering why the supplies ran out so fast. They'll keep the supplies coming as long as they have the funding and product to continue to hand out, but say they can't continue to bear the cost alone.

"We've been absorbing a lot of the costs where we've gotten some stimulus money to help out with the program. We hoped some individuals or organizations would take it on and help sponsor one of these trucks," said Hall.

The problem is so many agencies face the same cuts in funding, that there's no where to turn for support and more competition for the funds available. The Salvation Army says what they need are supplies for their store especially children's clothing and volunteers to make up for the staff they've been forced to cut.

The Food Bank of Southwest Georgia's Manna Truck has visited 15 of the 20 counties they serve. They're working to set up distributions in the other five counties and hope sponsors will come forward to help with the cost.

For more information on how you can donate to these two agencies contact The Salvation Army at (229)435-1428 or contact the Food Bank of Southwest Georgia at www.foodbank-swga.org.


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