Charities need year of giving

January 1, 2009 8:38:38 AM PST
Charities are more hopeful 2009 will be a better year for donations. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

In 2008 contributions were down for some of the largest organizations in the country. Their mission is to help others, now they need a bit of a boost themselves.

While we watched the economy take a dive this year, the number of disasters and the bill for responding was going up. In the final days of 2008 many organizations focused on getting people to give. Like many families, the Barbin's found themselves in the middle of Hurricane Ike and in need of help.

"We knew he needed dialysis in the next couple of days so we called 911," said victim Barbara Barbin.

With no end in sight to widespread power outages, the Red Cross moved the family to a shelter in San Antonio near a dialysis center.

"They had a taxi come and pick me up and took me back every time," Ike victim Lloyd Barbin said.

The Barbins are one of millions of families who received help from the Red Cross this year.

"It was a lifesaver for us," Lloyd said.

But with a near record year for disasters, the costs for helping families like theirs have really added up.

"It's been a year of terrific challenges for the American Red Cross both here and around the country," said Charlie McGiven who is the Interim CEO of the local chapter.

The current campaign is $20 million from its yearend goal.

"As to emergency relief, they are still in a deficit position but much less than three months ago," McGivern said.

And the organization estimates it will need $500 million for disaster relief next year.

Other organizations are feeling the pinch too. The Pasadena Salvation Army is down 24% from its year end goal.

"Basically what that means is we have to cut the budget in services 24%," said Captain Edward Alonzo of The Salvation Army. "Because of the economy and of Hurricane Ike, more and more people are going to come through our doors."

And the money did not pour in like it did following Hurricane Katrina. Back then $215 million came in through donations, but after Hurricane Ike it was just $15 million.

The Red Cross is ending 2008 with an email call for help. Hoping stories like the Barbins will encourage people to scrape up whatever they can give.

"If we would have waited at home for that amount of time I think he wouldn't be here," Babin admitted. The Red Cross says there are ways of contributing if you don't have any extra to give this year and that is through volunteering. Barbara Barbin says she plans on becoming a Red Cross volunteer in 2009.

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