Local leader says people simply have less to give this year
Sandusky Salvation Army Captain Mark Larrick believes hard economic times forced people to give less to the poor this year.
Bell ringers in Sandusky received about $30,000 in red kettle donations this holiday season.
"That's only half of what they collected last year," Larrick said Saturday morning.
Larrick said Salvation Army officers throughout Ohio reported lower turnouts this year, but the number of needy families has been on the rise.
"Ratio-wise, everybody's been down across the board," Larrick said. "We still have today (Saturday) and Monday for the kettles."
About 168 families signed up this year for the Sandusky Salvation Army's Angel Tree program, which assigns charitable donors to buy Christmas toys for one needy child or family.
"We went shopping at Toys R-Us and bought about $4,000-5,000 worth of toys," he said. "Wal-Mart opened up and helped us out. So did the local Marine Corps."
The Salvation Army's efforts are greatly appreciated by local people like Ashley Porter, 24, one of dozens who visited the Army's Sandusky post Saturday morning.
Ashley Porter says her four children, Ta-Shyra Porter, 9, Na-Shanti Fisher, 3, Quentin Fisher, 5, and Quen-Tavion, 1, might not have had such a merry Christmas this year without the help of the Salvation Army.
"It helps out, especially for single mothers," she said. "I just thank them a lot."
First-time Army volunteer Sarah Lizzi, 18, of Castalia, said she joined the Salvation Army this year because she wanted to help a good cause.
"I love seeing what joy it brings to little kids," she said. "It makes me feel good, like I'm making a difference."