FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – With just 10 days left until Christmas, leaders at the Salvation Army of Broward County are worried that the wishes of hundreds of needy children might go unfulfilled.
The agency’s is hoping members of the community will create a holiday miracle for its’ Angel Tree program.
The angels represent the Christmas wishes of an impoverished child in Broward County. Salvation Army Major Gene Hogg believes the sour economy has forced many people to cut back on charitable giving.
“Nearly 1,000 of our children were not adopted this year on our angel tree,” Hogg told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “We’re scrounging right now to make sure that those children have Christmas.”
Hogg said giving is down this year and the need is up. There are lots of toys to give away but not enough to meet the need. Hogg said there are 35-hundred poor children who need toys this year — an increase of more than 500 children over last year.
Hogg said he knows firsthand how important it is for these children to have a new toy to open on Christmas morning.
“I grew up homeless,” he said. “I know what it is to wake up on a Christmas morning and not having anything underneath the tree so when I see this empty table and I know there are children — at least 100 children in this age group and gender alone that’s not gonna have a toy — it’s hard for me not to show emotion about that.”
The Salvation Army of Broward County tries to give two toys to each child — the toys cost about $30-40.
“(Donors) are very generous in the community,” Hogg said. “Unfortunately, the economy this year has affected them.”
And it’s not just toys. Hogg says donations to the Salvation Army kettles in Broward are down 13 percent.
“We have more kettles out,” he said. “We’re raising less money. We’re off our goal about $75-100,000 dollars.”
Shopper George Bassett donated Thursday night to a kettle in Fort Lauderdale. He hopes others do too.
“The economy is maybe holding every one back a little bit,” Basset said. “You still gotta try and help out and give a little bit to people that don’t have as much.”
The Salvation Army is grateful for what it does have — thousands of toys for kids that will put a smile on a child’s face on Christmas morning. But the agency wants to make sure all the kids it promised to help will share the same joy.
“We have received a lot of generosity from the community,” Hogg said. “If we’re down a thousand children that means 2,500 children have been provided toys so we’re very grateful for that. We just need a little bit more help.”
Plus, Hogg said donations are down through the Salvation Army’s direct mail program. It’s alarming, Hogg said, because this time of year is critical for fundraising.
“Our services don’t end after we give the angel tree,” he said. “We’re here 365 days a year. We’re feeding people every night. People are sleeping here every night. If we don’t have raise our funds, we have to cut programming. That’s where we are.”
If you can adopt a child or donate money to help purchase toys for a child, contact the Salvation Army of Broward County at 954 712-2431.