Local Charities Bracing For Bad Year?

By: Liz Tedone
By: Liz Tedone

Knoxville (WVLT) - Thanksgiving is less than a month away, and some of Knoxville's biggest charities are scrambling to provide east Tennesseans with a happy holiday.

Volunteer TV's Liz Tedone has the details.

Earlier in the week, we were with the Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries as it kicked off it's Coats For The Cold campaign. They need even more coats this year, with specialty sizes and styles to keep everybody warm. Meanwhile some other big charities are facing similar challenges.

The shelves are almost bare at knoxville's Second Harvest Food Pantry. At one time, the cupboard looked like this. Now there's only a nine day supply of food. That's 40 percent less than normal. Nationally, donations are down, but in East Tennessee, events like the high school football challenge have provided Second Harvest some relief with canned goods. Because of desperate times, the Second Harvest is asking for cash donations.

"The food drives are great. The challenge with food drives is they're so staff intensive, and $1 goes a lot farther than a can of food here at Second Harvest because we can provide four meals for $1 because we buy in bulk," said Elaine Machiela from the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Second Harvest has round the clock volunteers like these high school girls sorting nothing but canned goods. While the staff is grateful for any donation, the dollar goes much farther and costs less than most brand name canned goods.

The Salvation Army's Kettle Campaign is slated to bring in almost $200,000 to help East Tennessee's poor, but with only 16 percent of bell ringers as volunteers, the remaining 84 percent are paid staff, forcing the Salvation Army to sacrifice the possibility of making an additional $150,000," said Rebecca Sass from the Salvation Army.

To turn those numbers around, this year's Adopt A Kettle campaign would double volunteerism by recruiting churches and large organizations.

"To come out and adopt a kettle for either a day or hopefully an entire week. It's a lot of help if they can adopt their own kettle coordinator," Sass said.

It takes the work of angels to bring holiday cheer to 29,000 families in need. The Army's Angel Tree campaign provides children with new toys for Christmas and volunteers make the delivery from a donated warehouse space in east Knoxville.


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