2010: Busy Year for Canton-Area Salvation Army
More requests for food and emergency assistance -- but more outreach and volunteers, too.
At the Salvation Army’s Plymouth post, 2010 will be remembered for the success of its various campaigns to help the poorest residents within its eight five-community zone, said Theresa Moriarty, the post‘s volunteer coordinator.
“I am completely confident that we will make all of our goals for the 2010 campaign,” she said. “Through the grace of God, people keep coming in here to donate despite the economy. We are blessed to live in a community where so many people support us.”
The cornerstone of the Salvation Army’s fundraising efforts -- the Red Kettle Campaign -- has collected $201,839 for 2010, and Moriarty said funds still coming in January will apply to the 2010 goal of $225,000.
Overall fundraising efforts yielded $299,071 -- 95 percent of the $315,000 goal, according to the Salvation Army’s data. The campaign is ongoing throughout the end of the month.
The numbers for the kettle campaign does show a decrease in the number of pocket change dropped into the red buckets. In 2009, about $212,000 was generated from the effort. Moriarty said there are a lot of reasons for the shortfall this year.
“I did expect there would be less in the kettles for 2010,” she said. “The economy is still struggling -- there are people that used to give to us that are thinking they know someone who is effected by the economy, or they have been effected by it themselves.”
Communities at the forefront
The Plymouth Salvation Army serves Plymouth, Plymouth Township, Canton Township, Northville, Northville Township, Belleville, and Van Buren and Sumpter Townships.
Many of these communities, at least according to state data, enjoy what is considered full employment.
According to the November Labor Market Information study from the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, Canton Township logged a 4.1 percent seasonally unadjusted jobless rate. Plymouth Township was measured at 3.5 percent; and Northville Township had one of the lowest unadjusted rates in the state at 2.7 percent. Van Buren Township's unadjusted rate was at 7.0 -- which is still significantly lower than the 13 percent tallied for Wayne County and Michigan’s overall 11.3 percent unadjusted rate.
The cities of Belleville, Northville and Plymouth -- as well as Sumpter -- are more difficult to gauge because they are not included in the state’s analysis.
But no study can accurately reflect the need in the community, which is determined by several factors, said Laurie Aren, the director of Family and Community Ministries at the Plymouth Post.
“What we noticed [in 2010] is that many people who have never needed assistance before sought help,” she said. “Not everyone who is having financial trouble is counted in the numbers . . . . People are telling us that they used to work full time, but have had their hours cut, they haven’t received raises, people on Social Security did not receive cost of living increases.
“There’s a lot of people out there who are suffering,” she added.
One telling fact is that, for the first time, the second largest amount of requests for food or cash assistance are coming out of Plymouth -- which technically has low unemployment numbers.
“We always have the most requests out of Canton Township, but for the first time, Plymouth is second,” Aren said. “That was a big surprise.”
Nowhere is the evidence of rising need more apparent than in programs that provide specific assistance.
In 2009, the Plymouth post prevented 49 applicants from being evicted from their home or apartment. That number went up to 53 in 2010, Aren said.
Also, the post had to spend $13,000 of it’s funds to purchase food for it’s food bank, which has seen a spike in the number of families it serves. In 2009, the food bank was able to meet demands for food and necessities without that expenditure.
Volunteerism is up
The silver lining in a difficult year is that the number of volunteers working out of the Plymouth post is up -- Moriarty said her database has 1,227 names in it -- up from about 1,200 in 2009.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Army’s ability to serve the public, said Moriarty.
The 2010 Christmas Toy Towne program -- a program that allows parent to shop for Christmas toys, clothing and food for a better holiday -- assisted 524 families this year, which included 1,182 children. Volunteers spent three days to setup, prepare and transform the Plymouth Post’s gym into the Toy Towne. Ninety-nine volunteers donated 594 hours to accomplish this tremendous task.
The distribution took place over a four-day period, had 213 volunteers donate 1,491 hours of their time, Moriarity said.
The kettle campaign is also dependent on the volunteers.
“We are blessed that many bell ringing volunteers returned again this year to help,” Moriarity said. “We are highly dependant on volunteer based bell ringers to collect funds enabling us to meet our kettle goal.”
The Plymouth Salvation Army’s staff and volunteers are expecting a challenging 2011, with unemployment remaining high and resources being tapped out.
“I don’t think we’re going to see much of a change,” said Aren. “This is the new normal for a lot of people. We’re going to make every effort possible to help people out.”