The end-of-year holiday is a season of giving, when we are infused with the spirit of generosity, empathy for those in need and “good will to all” (not to mention a Dec. 31 tax deadline for deductions).
Unfortunately, this year the peak giving season is shorter than usual. The late Thanksgiving holiday truncated the number of fundraising weekends leading up to Christmas. That’s on top of a challenging macro-economic environment, and it is putting the squeeze on charities. Some local fundraisers have quietly indicated that they are worried about meeting year-end objectives.
“Times are tough; people who may have been able to give before can’t now,” says Rev. Rosita Williams, president of the Great Neck Kiwanis. “Even Saturday evenings at Roosevelt Field seems a little slow.”
Of course, with holiday efforts it’s still too early to say for sure—there could be a flurry of donations in the final week. And some organizations say they are on track. Staff Sgt. Kyle Stahlecker, Nassau County coordinator for Toys for Tots, says donations this year are “absolutely on par with last year’s.”
“People in Nassau County are so giving,” he says. “We’re filling up left and right.” Hicks Nurseries, which collects cans of food for LI Cares, says they won’t know for sure until they get a final tally from the charity, but by an eyeball estimate it looks about the same as in past years. Still, for some organizations, preliminary results are troubling. One fundraiser said the first weekend after Thanksgiving yielded donations that were on one day “slightly less” and on the other “significantly less” than the year before. Another volunteer said charity representatives had mentioned that it seems to be a slow year overall.
“It’s been brutal,” says John Theissen, who has run the John Theissen Children’s Foundation for 22 years. “Usually we deliver over 76,000 toys; this year we have half that many, and requests are up.” He said fundraising is down $100,000 compared to last year.
“It’s one of the worst years ever,” he says. “I just don’t get it; I don’t get what’s going on.”
The hard times are being felt even by animals. “Adoptions are significantly down because people can’t afford a dog, and surrenders significantly up,” says Bob Sowers, a detective at the SPCA, where staff and volunteers have been dipping into their own pockets to meet the shortfall. He says that donations this year have been “a lot less.” “These animals are in desperate need of a home this year.”
Timothy Jaccard, founder of AMT Children of Hope Foundation in Mineola, confirms that AMT has seen a dip in donations, too. “The elections and political arena this year lessened donations,” he says. “A lot of political parties were soliciting for money.”
“It’s down on average compared to the past,” says Bill Moseley, a longtime volunteer fundraiser who sits on the Salvation Army advisory board. “Last year because of Sandy people were a little more willing to part with hard-earned dollars, and the season is shortened—retail is feeling it too.”
Nonprofits are working to counteract this trend. AMT held two extra fundraisers: a walkathon in April and a polka-thon in September. The nonprofit is also hosting holiday raffles and Christmas parties. “We raised $5,000 at the Marriott Hotel last night with a raffle,”
Jaccard says. He hopes to raise a total of $50,000 for the Children of Hope Foundation through these efforts.
The Salvation Army is likewise seeking creative new opportunities, such as renting its brass musicians—whether a single trumpeter, horn quartet or the full band—for private events. The quartet played Amityville’s Small Business Saturday event this year. Another effort focuses on college and university students.
A final accounting won’t come through until charities work through their books in January, and we can still hope for angels to appear. Meredith Brosnan, of the North Shore Kiwanis, remembers ringing the bells one year when a man drove up, rolled down his window and asked, “Do you take checks?” And when they said yes, he dropped one in the kettle. “When we got back to count it, it was $1,500!” Brosnan recalls. “It was a good day.”
Absent a rash of such liberality, the budget discussions at charity offices in January may center on making do with less. That might include more energetic recruitment of volunteers for the rest of the year.
“Come January 1, we’re open every day. We’re serving the community all year long,” says Major Philip Wittenberg of the Salvation Army’s Hempstead Citadel Corps. “If a volunteer calls, we can always find a useful service for them to do.”
— Colleen Maidhof contributed to this article
Saturday, 01 March 2014 00:00
The second meeting of the Powers Chemco property site at Glen Cove City Hall last Thursday night focused on health concerns in the surrounding area. Spokesmen from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Department of Health (DOH) and other environmental experts discussed the extent of the contaminated soil and water at the site. It was a continued discussion on the proposed clean-up of the State Superfund site, which was formerly occupied by the Columbia Ribbon and Carbon
Manufacturing Company, and now located within the 15-acre Konica Minolta property.
“After careful studies, we found that the contaminated soil and water table poses no threat to nearby residences,” said Nathan Epler, a hydrogeologist from the environmental consulting and management firm Roux Associates.
Friday, 28 February 2014 00:00
The Glen Cove Council of PTAs will be holding its Annual Community Scholarship Fund Event at the Swan Club on Sunday, March 9, at 11:30 a.m. The Glen Cove Community Scholarship Fund was founded in 1958, and it annually administers funds in the form of scholarships to deserving Glen Cove High School seniors. All proceeds from this event will be donated to this fund. The event will feature a performance by the High School Jazz Band and a basket raffle. This year’s honorees are Nomi Rosen, Dr. Michael Israel, Rosemarie Sekelsky, Brittney Frank Rifkind, Suzanne Anderson and Mary Murphy.
Thursday, 27 February 2014 00:00
The North Shore High School swimming team completed its season with high honors this year. Both the men’s and women’s teams have qualified individual athletes for all-conference and all-county championship competitions.
Coach Samara Weitz has also been honored with the Nassau County Coach of the Year award—motivating many of her athletes to succeed throughout the season, including senior Kristen Stanis.
“She made sure I was working hard, but also having fun,” Stanis said. “She taught me how to balance work and play and how it’s important to maintain it.”
Thursday, 20 February 2014 00:00
It was all fun and games at the fourth annual Winter Classic Hockey tournament at the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center in Bethpage on Saturday, Feb. 8. Young adults and kids of all ages from the Long Island Blues Hockey team faced off against three other teams in the event that gives individuals with special needs the opportunity to play ice hockey in an accommodating setting.
Michael Russo, founder of the Long Island Blues team, said he started the program 10 years ago so his son, Nicholas, who has autism, could play hockey.