UPDATE: Salvation Army's Funds Down; Agency Needs More Help

By: Anna Baxter, Dan Griffin Email
By: Anna Baxter, Dan Griffin Email

UPDATE 12/17/13 @ 6 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Days after a Salvation Army bell ringer was robbed, workers said they've seen more donations.

They said all the money helps people, not just during Christmas, but throughout the year.

But they now have an especially big challenge: 75 more families than last year.

Despite Saturday's red kettle robbery, Salvation Army volunteers are still in the Christmas spirit.

"These kids are depending on us, these families are depending on us and we're going to make it happen," said Salvation Army Commanding Officer Matthew Riley.

And they're not alone.

Volunteers said they're seeing more money dropped in the red kettles.

They're also seeing more donations from people, hoping they can make up for what was lost.

"Other folks have called and adopted more kids," Riley said.

Salvation Army leaders said the donations are important.

"A lot of people assume that's just used for Christmas, but that's actually what keeps us going for the rest of the year as well," Salvation Army Major Cathy Riley said.

They said they need every dime this year. They're helping an extra 75 families make ends meet.

"Your heart kind of breaks from year to year when you see things are getting worse instead of getting better," Matthew Riley said.

But they said they aren't discouraged.

Instead, they're even more inspired to make a difference.

"We need to work harder to make sure that we have the finances to meet the needs of the community here in Huntington and the surrounding counties," Cathy Riley said.

Workers said they are distributing Christmas gifts to families Friday morning.

They said they will make sure the extra 75 families have a Christmas.

Salvation Army leaders said it generally costs about $50 to $75 to help a family for Christmas.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Salvation Army is asking for the public's help to make sure children of all ages have a special Christmas.

The organization reports donations this year are down compared to last year.

"We can't put our finger on any one thing or even a group of things that really account for the decline in donations this year," Major Darrell Kingsbury said. "There are six less days to collect donations this year than last year because of the lateness of the Thanksgiving holiday."

The Salvation Army has also seen a decline in the number of group volunteers.

Kingsbury says the need has increased this year and in one county the amount of families needing assistance has doubled.

"We believe that the good citizens of West Virginia will come through for us and help us deal with the increased need we have seen this year," Kingsbury said. "Without these funds we will not be able to provide the level assistance which people are used to expecting and receiving from their local Salvation Army offices."

Groups and individuals who would like to help can call the Salvation Army at 304-343-4548.

"We desperately need individuals and groups to step up and take one of the 35 locations for a day at a time," Hank Walker, local Advisory Board Chair.

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