Local Charities Hurting In Wake Of Economic Downturn

Call it a sign of the times - tough economic times.

More and more people are turning to non-profit organizations to help meet their basic everyday needs, but some of those organizations are now feeling the strain.

As KLTV 7's Layron Livingston shows, these days, those who help others are needing a little help of their own.

'Tis better to give than to receive - at least it used to be.

"Right now, we should be overwhelmed with donations....and we're not."

Mary Cowan is with Goodwill Industries of east Texas. Even as the donations seem to pour in, overall Goodwill giving is going.

"When our donations are down and our retail sales are down, this affects our program, and we can't serve as many people as we'd like."

Cowan also says nowadays, people are keeping their things longer.

And then, "There's the issue of using their gas to bring their donations to Goodwill," said Cowan.

"The economy is stressing us all out. The economy is in a bad situation."

Debbie Waffer is with the Salvation Army of Tyler. She says the family store recently reached a sales record thanks to the outpouring of donations.

But over in the food pantry, the shelves are a bit bare this year. Not a good thing since the Army helps feed about 2,000 people each month.

"We don't want to turn anyone away. Times are really hard right now, and we want to continue to be able to help."

Mitzie Avera with PATH has that same hope. Last year the organization collected school supplies for nearly 18,000 Smith County students.

This year, she expects the supply train to make several more stops.

"We're seeing new people whose never visited us before coming and saying, 'you know I used to give...and now I'm having to ask for help."

Avera and all the organizations are optimistic about one thing: East Texans who can answer the helping hand call of duty. You can drop off school supplies at the PATH office, or at fire stations all over Tyler.

And on a related note - last week, this fire at the Oxford Pointe Apartments displaced more than a dozen families. Food, clothes, and monetary donations are being accepted at the Salvation Army for those victims.

Layron Livingston, reporting. llivingston@kltv.com