Charitable giving drops significantly - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Charitable giving drops significantly

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January 24, 2008

Albany -- Metro Albany's unemployment rate rose to more than 5% in December and charities are feeling it.   Some organizations that help people say they're broke, and can't help the people calling them now.  

They worry that If the economy worsens, they will have to turn away more South Georgians in need.  

The sign on the front door of the Albany Outreach Center says it all. They can't help anyone with their rent or utility bills because there is no money.

Reverend Mike McAfee said "The funds are out. We want to give, but we can't give if the funds are not available to give."

Albany Outreach has been giving emergency aid for people in need for 25 years. Funded by eight of Albany's biggest churches, there is not enough to keep going. McAfee said "The support that we've received in the past is just not available to us right now, and it has not been for some time. And that breaks our heart."

Church led charities are the first line of defense in the community for people hurting financially, but donations continue to dry up, as the cost of that need gets worse.

"$25 or $50 is not going to do any good for a person who is behind on a month's rent, or have a utility bill," McAfee said

State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond called the sharp rise in unemployment in Georgia "troubling... the largest statewide increase for this time period in more than 30 years."

And if the economy worsens and layoffs grow, aid organizations say little charity help will be there to keep the heat turned on, or pay for medicine.

United Way of Southwest Georgia President Dwayne Myles said "You always try to keep hope, but it's a good chance that a lot of needs won't be met if the economy continues to go the way it's going."

Albany Outreach does not know what their future holds, as donations are down and the economic future looks threatening. They worry about those in the community who soon might need help.

The Department of Human Resources has $1.6 million available to help low-income families with their heating costs. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is federally funded and families can get up to $250. To apply, call 1-800-869-1150.

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