Tulare Salvation Army Closed for Thanksgiving

September 26, 2008 10:45:21 PM PDT
Thanksgiving is less than two months away and local Salvation Army centers are starting to gear up for the holidays. But many volunteers say donations are significantly down. One South Valley Salvation Army says donations are so low, they are going to have to shut down for Thanksgiving.Many say the sluggish economy will hurt those most in need during the holiday season.

The Salvation Army in Tulare prides itself on giving 1,200 families Thanksgiving baskets every year. But this year they won't be giving out any Thanksgiving baskets because donations are down tens of thousands of dollars.

Captain David Scott shows us the familiar red donation kettles that are usually parked outside of stores during the holiday season. Captain Scott says they are usually a consistent money-maker but last year they were hit with a significant loss.

Captain David Scott, Tulare Salvation Army, says "We were $25,000 down in kettles last year, which is very large for us." The dependable red kettles usually bring in about $60,000. The Tulare Salvation Army just barely made half of that last year.

Captain Scott, "I feel very bad. It hurts."

The downturn in funds means no thanksgiving dinners for thousands of needy children in Tulare. Captain Scott says they are also receiving far less non-perishable food donations than they usually do. The Salvation Army in Visalia says its donations are also significantly down. Volunteers say they usually have 50 turkeys by this time of the year. Now, their freezers are empty and their normally-stocked pantry is lacking the necessities for a holiday meal.

Marisol Gonsalez, Visalia Salvation Army, says "We have nothing. We have a little bit but from what we have, even the people in the community are expecting to get food, but we have nothing."

Gonsalez thinks most people are just trying to keep what they have in their own pantries at home. Captain Scott says the dozens of people who call and stop by the office in Tulare every day asking about the Thanksgiving dinners are understanding as to why there won't be any this year. Captain Scott says "They agree and say it is a very hard year because many of the people we are seeing are people we've never seen before. They're working poor families that have always pretty much made it."

Volunteers at the Tulare Salvation Army are now starting to prepare for Christmas. Tulare residents can start applying for a Christmas basket starting on November 5th.

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