Columbia charities are seeking last minute donations until Christmas

Monday, December 23, 2013 | 5:46 p.m. CST; updated 6:05 p.m. CST, Monday, December 23, 2013
Laurie Willis rings the Salvation Army Red Kettle bell outside of the downtown post office Monday. Willis has worked as a bellringer and at Salvation Army stores for more than eight years.

COLUMBIA — As the Christmas countdown nears an end, organizations that help those in need are struggling to meet their goals.

The Salvation Army said Monday it is $100,000 short of its goal this year.

How to help

Salvation Army

Checks preferred

P.O. Box 1864

Columbia, MO 65205

Toys for Tots

New or unused toys, unwrapped

1800 Burlington St.

Columbia, MO 65202

Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri

Food or checks

2101 Vandiver Drive

Columbia, MO 65202

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri

Gifts for newborns and fathers

3501 E. Lansing Ave.

Columbia, MO 65201




Toys for Tots, sponsored by the Mizzou Marines, is closer to its goal of providing 1,800 toys to Columbia children but still needs $500 to $1,000.

Other nonprofit organizations, including the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, are looking ahead to gather donations for the leaner winter months.

Cyndy Chapman, Salvation Army regional development director, said the organization has raised $290,000 of the $390,000 it was trying to raise this year.

Last year the goal was $352,000, which was met in time for the holidays, she said.

"I don’t think we have ever been this far away from our goal in December."

She said it takes more than 150 volunteers to collect donations around the city during the month of December. Bell ringers will be in highly visible locations Tuesday asking for support.

Those who can't get out are asked to submit checks or cash donations directly to the Salvation Army, which has its headquarters at 1108 W. Ash St.

"People really haven’t heard our story," Chapman said. "Now it’s crunch time. We are asking people to please be generous. Some people don’t realize the money we raise now is used year-round to provide our programs."

The Salvation Army offers 61 shelter beds, an emergency food pantry, clothing, programs for children and holiday community meals.

"Donations stay and are used here locally," Chapman said. "It’s a big difference in our charity. You are helping your own community by donating."

Toys for Tots Columbia Coordinator Dannie Weddle said the organization is in better shape than it was a few days ago thanks to several last-minute donations.

Weddle said he has received multiple checks that total $5,488 over the past two days. He said one man donated because he received a toy from the organization one Christmas as a youngster.

Weddle said monetary donations help fill any gap, but toys will not be refused.

"People have opened up their hearts and pocketbooks to help this organization succeed," he said. "I am proud to be a Columbian and Marine that helps with Toys for Tots."

The Food Bank has filled its needs for the holiday season but anticipates a shortage in the early months of the year.

Boone County has seen a 22 percent increase in one year in the number of people needing food assistance, Executive Director Peggy Kirkpatrick said.

"We are seeing more and more working poor coming in," she said. "We attribute this to the cost of groceries, which is just out of sight."

The Food Bank feeds more than 25,000 people monthly in Boone County, she said. In 2013, nearly 8 million pounds of food has been distributed in the county and 35 million pounds in the 32 counties it serves.

The need is continuous, however, she said.

"We are in this for the long haul," Kirkpatrick said. "It's not January, February and March that's in need, it's the whole year."

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri is collecting diapers and onesies for newborns, as well as gifts for fathers, said Angela Huntington, community outreach coordinator.

This will be the organization’s first Christmas in its new house on Lansing Avenue, and it is at full capacity with 17 families.

The Ronald McDonald House provides lodging for  families with hospitalized children that range from newborns to age 21. The new house has doubled the number of people served.

“We are trying to make Christmas special for the families staying here,” Huntington said. “We never know who will be there one day to the next.”

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