PORT ARTHUR —
Its that time of the year when needs are great — a time when Port Arthur’s Salvation Army workers rise to the occasion to help those less fortunate.
To do so, the charitable organization mostly relies on donations, such as those contibutions from Holly Days, a holiday giving program sponsored by The Port Arthur News, area Rotary Clubs and the Retail Merchants Association.
Last year, the Port Arthur Salvation Army received a $2,000 donation from Holly Days collections.
Major Nancy Fuller, corps officer with the Port Arthur Salvation Army, said this year the need is greater than the year prior.
Holly Days donations are combined with other charitable contributions to purchase toys for underprivileged children who are participants in the agency’s angel tree program.
This year 575 families consisting of 1,200 children qualified for the program, but not all of the angels were taken.
To ensure no child’s Christmas wishes go unfulfilled, Fuller said the Salvation Army is using its own money to purchase the remainder of the children’s toys.
This weekend, Fuller said she spent $2,600 on angel tree children.
“People are just saying they don’t have the money this year,” Fuller said.
Hard economic times are also evidenced at various retailers around town, where Salvation Army red kettles are not as full as they need to be.
With only a few days to go until Christmas, Port Arthur’s Salvation Army is currently behind in its holiday fundraising goal.
To make matters more urgent, this year’s Red Kettle Campaign is shorter by five days because of the late date for Thanksgiving.
“This as well as the unexpected spell of winter weather has significantly impacted the Army’s fundraising in Mid and South Jefferson County,” Fuller said.
November and December are the biggest Salvation Army fundraising efforts of the year, not only in supporting holiday related programs, but also needs that continue throughout the year.
Major John Fuller, corps officer with the Port Arthur Salvation Army and Nancy Fuller’s husband, said the agency routinely helps people with food programs, some rental and utility assistance, and by providing coats and gloves during cold weather.
“We are getting more and more people needing help, not just younger people but also senior people and working people,” John Fuller said.
Funds not used by the Salvation Army during the holiday season are utilized throughout the year, John Fuller said.
“We can always use more volunteers and more donations. People just need this time of year, but the need keeps going the other 11 months,” John Fuller said.
To donate to The Salvation Army, look for red kettles at local businesses, or give through Holly Days fund drive.