Holiday Donation Decline?

October 20, 2005--Posted at 5:30 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR--The Christmas season is a time for giving but are Americans tapped out? Many opened thier pocketbooks to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina while paying record high gas prices at the same time.

When it came time to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina the good neighbors of Region 8 stepped up to the call.

"So far the American Red Cross says they dispersed over one million dollars in funds as well as 500,000 dollars in food clothing and other donations," said Kevin Lawrence, Executive Director of the United Way.

The First Baptist Church in Jonesboro was home to a number of evacuees and they saw the outpouring of generosity.

"Alot of it came from the community things were donated we had lots and lots of canned goods donated, plenty of water," said Kathy Holler, the Minister of Special Ministries at First Baptist in Jonesboro.

But as Christmas and Thanksgiving approach could charitable organizations feel the crunch?

"Our organizations and agencies supported the hurricane relief effort and they are kind of worried a little bit how much the community can continue to give and support," said Lawrence.

With Toys for Tots coming up along with other Christmas drives Kathy believes her church and the community will continue to give.

"They believe in sharing with other people what they have that has been the tradition of this church's family and i don't see that changing because we had an extra opportunity to minister through the Hurricane Katrina victims," said Holler.

The United Way's annual campaign is in full swing and they are already well ahead of projections, for Northeast Arkansans who have a tradition of giving it is all about filling the need.

"This year since they saw the evacuees first hand and got to hear their stories i think it has renewed the hearts of everybody and they feel that compassion so i think people are more willing to give," said Lawrence.

Even though the holiday season is right around the corner there are always people to help.

"I think we have to be aware that needs don't just happen at Thanksgiving and Christmas, these people need help 365 days a year," said Holler.

If people need a place to make donations year round, the care center at First Baptist Church welcomes volunteers, food, clothing, or monetary donations.