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Editorial: More need, less to give?

Here’s a holiday-themed Catch 22: Because of the crummy state of the economy, local residents might not give as much to agencies such as the Salvation Army this holiday season. Thanks to that same crummy economy, more people are turning to agencies such as the Salvation Army this year.
It’s a knot we as a community are going to have to untie.
Of course, the Salvation Army isn’t the only organization feeling the effects of a recession that experts in government buildings and office towers say has ended. Folks who see things at street level can report the recession maintains a firm grip on the nation. Earlier this month, the Rowan County United Way extended its annual capital campaign after receiving pledges totaling only 73 percent of its $1,776,000 goal.
The Salvation Army is a United Way agency but, as most of them do, it conducts its own fundraising programs as well. This is the time of year when that effort is most visible, with the Red Kettle and Angel Tree campaigns.
Over the next several weeks, shoppers will hear volunteers ringing those familiar Salvation Army bells outside local stores. In a modern addition to the traditional receptacles for spare change and folded greenbacks, some are equipped with devices to accept credit and debit cards.
The Salvation Army hopes that will entice some shoppers to give who may have before simply said, “Sorry. No cash.” And, as a bonus, people tend to give more when using a credit or debit card than they do when tossing money into the bucket.
And more is a theme in this year of less. More people have gone on the unemployment rolls, such as the 98 who lost their jobs when century-old W.A. Brown & Son closed its doors early this month. More are making hard choices about how to pay for food, housing, health care.
More are facing a bleak holiday season, and so are their kids. And more are turning to agencies like the Salvation Army for help. More than 1,200 children from needy families have had their names and wishes hung on the agency’s Angel Trees.
So the Salvation Army is asking for more from the community. This year, the nonprofit is trying to raise $70,000, up from $52,000 last year. The money won’t be used solely for Christmas. It will help fund efforts to aid the community throughout the coming year.
Still, in this economy, that’s a tough sell. Agency leaders know it, but they’re asking anyway.
“Regardless of the situation, more people are needing help,” Capt. Jason Smith, corps officer for the Salvation Army of Salisbury, told the Post this week.
The uncertainty many feel about their situations in particular and the economy in general might lead them to keep their wallets and checkbooks tightly shut. For many others, job losses and other hardships this year may mean opening those wallets and checkbooks doesn’t do much good.
Somewhere in the middle stand agencies like the Salvation Army, trying to do more good in a year of less. But they can’t do it alone. Help if you can. Give if you have. Despite the nation’s financial picture, this doesn’t have to be the year of our Christmas Catch 22. It can be the year we show Rowan County residents will not be tied in knots.

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