The Red Cross giving tree hasn’t been receiving much this holiday season.
The Western Colorado Chapter of the Red Cross, located in Grand Junction and serving 10 counties, has received 25 percent of the amount donated last year during the holiday season. Red Cross workers and volunteers called 200 businesses hoping to drum up support and set up the tree at Mesa Mall alongside a table of envelopes for donations in December, but have only collected $2,000 during Christmas time. They collected $8,000 in the same time frame in 2007.
“We’re not saying we’re going to close our doors, but we’re trying to maintain our level of service,” said local Red Cross Executive Director David Hintch.
Even for those charitable organizations getting the same amount of donations as last year, extra items are still welcome because of increased need. Although the median household income has increased from $52,015 in 2006 to $55,212 in 2007, Mesa County poverty levels are still above the state average. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 13.4 percent of Mesa County residents lived below the poverty level in 2007 and 18.4 percent of Mesa County children were below the poverty level. The Colorado average for people below the poverty level was 11.8 percent in 2007, and 15.6 percent of Colorado children lived below the poverty line.
The Salvation Army sent gift baskets filled with toys and practical items to 1,150 families last year, but Major Al Parker expects that number to increase to 1,350 families this year. Volunteers are invited to help sort the baskets today and Monday at the old National Guard building (call 462-5605 if you want to help). Donations of toys, clothing, gloves, coats and gift certificates for food are still welcome, or people can drop some money in a red Salvation Army kettle.
Grand Junction Rescue Mission Director Keith Bradley said he expected fewer donations because of a downturn in the economy, but he has plenty of food to feed the 46 men that sleep at the mission every night.
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