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The Daily Tar Heel

Local Charities Need Holiday Help

This year's faltering economy leaves many area organizations short on funding but with an increase of families in need.

The Salvation Army relies on community support during the holiday season to provide food, clothes, shelter and gifts to those in need.

For these organizations, the holidays are generally a time of increased giving by community members in the holiday spirit.

But Ashley Delamar, the Salvation Army's business administrator for Wake County, said this year's economy has left the organization short on funding.

He said because of a recent increase in layoffs, there has been a 12 percent increase in the number of families registered to receive gifts from the organization.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site, the nation's unemployment rate increased to 5.4 percent in October, the highest rate reported since December 1996.

"We need a huge Christmas season in terms of support from the public," Delamar said.

The increase in need has left the group struggling to meet its goal of providing food vouchers to each of its 6,000 registered families, who come from Wake, Orange and Durham counties.

The Salvation Army, whose local headquarters is based in Wake County, gives toys to every child in each family and provides "league of mercy" gifts to nursing home residents and prisoners. The items will be distributed by volunteers Dec. 20 and 21.

Delamar said anyone wishing to contribute should look for the red donation kettles at local Wal-Mart, Kmart or Target stores.

In addition, residents can participate in the Salvation Army's "Angel Tree" at Crabtree Mall in Raleigh.

By doing so, volunteers commit to giving a gift to the child whose name is written on the angel they choose from the mall's Christmas tree.

Like the Salvation Army's "Angel Tree," other nonprofit organizations in the area say they are gearing up for the holiday giving season.

The Chapel Hill Ronald McDonald House, which provides shelter for families of seriously ill children undergoing treatment at UNC Hospitals, is making a special plea for gifts this holiday season. "We are seeking unwrapped presents for children and adults staying at the house," said Shelley Day, a house employee.

Residents and staff of the Ronald McDonald House also have assembled a wish list of needed items.

Among these are food, kitchen and laundry items, objects to provide family entertainment such as books and magazines and personal items such as deodorant and hair brushes.

The Inter-Faith Council also is appealing to the community to be especially giving around the holidays.

Executive Director Chris Moran said the IFC's goal is to raise $150,000 by the end of the year, an amount that will allow the group to continue providing housing, food and other services to Chapel Hill's less fortunate. "Without (public) support it's difficult to maintain the level of services needed," Moran said.

He added that volunteers are needed to facilitate the group's programs. "We always welcome any individual, including University students and faculty."

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