Callers to the local Christmas charity Kids Yule Loves phone number are hearing a message this year that doesnt convey the cheer often associated with the holidays.
I have some very sad news for you, Joe Allen, a Bibb County commissioner who founded Kids Yule Love in 1986, says on the message. This is a very, very bad year for Christmas with Kids Yule Love. The toys are not coming in.
Allen goes on to explain the organization has received double the applications for Christmas help than last year, but there are fewer toys. Allen asks callers who need help to turn to others who may be able to help them.
God bless you, and I hope everyone remembers what the reason for the season is, he concludes.
This year, Kids Yule Love is trying to fill requests from about 1,300 children up to 12 years old in Bibb and Houston counties, and only 40 or so of those have been taken care of so far, said Chris Allen, Joe Allens son who directs the organizations Houston County operation. For the first time, the organization this year is also trying to get Bibles to 800 or so children who indicated they would like one, Chris Allen said.
It hurts to tell people ... he paused. You want to help them.
Fewer toys have been donated at Kids Yule Love drop boxes at various locations in Bibb and Houston. The toys in the drop boxes are expected to be picked up Friday, Chris Allen said.
The economy has a lot to do with it, Chris Allen said. Food prices are going up.
There is also lower participation from local businesses, said Joe Allen.
However, donations to the organizations other midstate offices, such as Jones Countys, are catching up to the demand in their communities, Joe Allen said.
One year the organization had difficulty receiving donations, and children received their gifts on Dec. 27, Joe Allen said. He said hed be willing to do that again if the toys come in later.
Still, donations have come through at the last minute in the past, and Joe Allen has faith it will happen again.
Gods never let me down, he said. Gods never let the program down.
Joe Allen hopes that donations from Tattnall Square Academy on Wednesday and Frito-Lay later in the week will help ease some of the shortfall. Wednesday, Tattnall students donated to Kids Yule Love about 1,200 toys as well as $1,250 from T-shirt sales, said Shirley Kitchings, student council adviser. Students there have been donating to the program for 25 years.
While many families are financially stretched, fortunately they stretch a little more and donate to Kids Yule Love, too, she said.
Representatives from several other local organizations that work with needy families also said the economy has put them in a bind.
The Salvation Army of Central Georgia is trying to provide gifts for about 3,200 local children this year, almost 800 more than they helped last year, said Peggy Steele, the organizations development director.
Its not so much people are not responding as it is the overwhelming increase in folks who need help -- we just need more, Steele said.
Macon Rescue Missions Dove Center, which works with victims of domestic abuse, is filling requests from 374 children, said Renee Barreth, the centers director. It is also working with 20 emergency cases, which came to the center earlier this year than in the past. The center is taking donations for children from birth to 12 years old and is currently low on items for girls such as tea sets and dolls.
We dont want to see any child go without, Barreth said.
However, one organization, Toys for Tots, is on track with the donations needed to fill the demand of local families.
Toys for Tots has already distributed items to about 200 local families and is expected to deliver items to 200 more on Saturday, said Marine Staff Sgt. Joshua OConnor, who coordinates deliveries to Bibb and Houston counties.
However, more and more families have been seeking help.
It gets bigger and bigger every year, especially this year, he said.
To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 744-4331.