Niagara Gazette — Normally charity organizations notice both an increase in need and an increase in offered help once Thanksgiving comes around.
But following the Christmas holiday, the two separate quicker than many inside these charities care to acknowledge. And it’s usually the help that dries up first.
The need, though, stays fairly level throughout the winter months, especially in the more hands-on places like the Community Missions of Niagara Frontier Inc.
“You can look at the direct increase within our emergency housing shelter with the temperature and weather outside,” said Christian Hoffman, communications and development manager at Community Missions. “Throughout all of the winter months, we need that help. Whether it be volunteer hours or through donations. But anybody who does come in give to our food pantry or serve in our soup kitchen can see the need up front and that doesn’t go down when the holidays end.”
Still, Hoffman said the organization doesn’t want to discount the help that did arrive these past few months. Though it’s too early to tell for this year, there was a dramatic rise in help coming through the doors of the emergency shelter. It only helped match the rise in requests for assistance, but it was beneficial nonetheless, he said.
For example, he said, through Dec. 1 there was about a 20 percent increase in the number of requests made to the shelter portion of the mission’s 18 different services. Its Adopt-a-Family program, though, which provides both Christmas presents and meals for those in need, saw a bountiful increase in the number of people helped, which Hoffman credits to more people stepping up this year.
He said the service provided 162 families in the area with a Christmas season, up from 140 last year.
“We want to thank the community,” he said. “The holiday season was a fantastic one. It’s been wonderful. But we’re hoping we can see this time and time again. There’s still time this year to help, too. Now is as good a time as any for anyone looking to give as there are still a couple days left to get your tax deductible donations in, which is what we typically see.”