Step up to help others

Dec. 17, 2013 @ 10:16 PM

Perhaps it is the still-lingering impact of the Great Recession. Perhaps it is donor fatigue.

Or perhaps it is just the quirkiness of the calendar.

Whatever the reason, non-profits that add to their portfolio helping families in need at Christmas are feeling a pinch.

We suspect it is not for lack of trying -- and at the end of the day, we also suspect that most groups will make their goals because this is a giving community. We are fortunate to have legions of citizens who care about helping others, whether it is with their time, their talents or their checkbooks.

As Kim Shaw, executive director of the Volunteer Center of Durham, told The Herald-Sun’s April Dudash, “We just live in a very generous area.”

Many non-profit groups with whom Dudash talked in recent days point to the calendar as one of their greatest challenges this year.  Thanksgiving, falling on November’s fourth Thursday, is thus hostage to the calendar. Christmas, on the other hand, is the 25th of December, no matter what.

This year, Thanksgiving fell especially late in the month -- leaving nearly a week less in that all-important inter-holiday period than when it is at its earliest. 

“Losing that week has definitely put a strain and a stress on us,” said Martin Banning, resource development director for The Salvation Army of Durham, Orange and Person counties.

“For a lot of people, it means there’s one less week of shopping,” he said. “But for the Salvation Army, it means we have less time to raise those funds.”

That remark does cause us to muse about whether people were as likely to think about their holiday giving before the Thanksgiving turkey was off the table, they way merchants have lured them into thinking about their Christmas shopping at ever-earlier times.

That aside, the challenge is a real one for those groups sprinting toward Christmas and hoping they will meet their donation goals and serve all the families and individuals they hope to help this holiday season.

Dudash’s story in Tuesday’s Herald-Sun detailed the needs of a half-dozen local groups involved in major Christmas drives.  Those needs range from new, unwrapped toys for the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots campaign or the Durham Rescue Mission’s Christmas Toy Give-A-Way, to winter coats and clothes for the John Avery Boys and Girls Club of Durham and Welcome Baby.

The breakdown of all group’s plans and needs was in Tuesday’s paper, and it’s available on line at

The Volunteer Center’s Shaw was optimistic it, like all groups, would get the last-minute help it needs.

“What’s great is the community seems to come through whenever we need more families to be sponsored,” she said. 

The next few days give the community a chance – in the true spirit of the season – to prove her right.