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, 19 April 2014 00:00
In order to meet the necessary budget requirements, the Glen Cove School District will reduce school staff members, starting in the 2014-15 school year. One administrative staff member and nine instructional staff members will be let go, according to Superintendent
Maria Rianna’s report at the Monday night school board meeting. Staff reductions will also be made to teaching assistants, school monitors, substitute teachers and custodial and maintenance workers. The total savings for the district is $1,227,669.
As of March 31, revenues for the district total $79,281,428. The revenues include the tax levy ($64,780,719), P.I.L.O.T.s ($1,908,060), tax on consumer utility bills ($1,250,000)n use of reserves ($1,250,000), State Aid ($8,751,799), all other revenues ($635,850) and appropriation of unassigned fund balance ($750,000).
The total appropriations for the district are $80,509,097 and revenues are $79,281,428 with a budget gap of $1,227,669.
Friday, 18 April 2014 00:00
It has been five years since a particularly heavy rainfall closed all the beaches in Glen Cove including Crescent Beach. As per Nassau County Department of Health standards, beaches are ordered closed after heavy rainfall because of storm water runoff that adversely affects bacteria levels at local beaches. Typically, bacteria levels subside within a day or so, allowing for the beaches to be reopened. This was not the way it went with one popular beach after the June 2009 rain storm.
“Unfortunately, this was not the case with Crescent Beach,” said Glen Cove Parks & Recreation Director, Darcy Belyea, at last Wednesday night’s public forum at Glen Cove City Hall. “Elevated levels of microbiological contamination continued to be found in the bathing water months after the heavy rain and recent samples show they are still elevated today.”
Belyea was one of a number of panelists at the public forum, which included Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello, City Attorney Charles McQuair, Director of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee Eric Swenson and representatives from the Nassau County Department of Health.
Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00
Glen Cove High School players, from left, Tajah Garner, Dejon Taylor, Manny Sican, and Ralik Jackson, after the Long Island Colts u18’s team vs. St. Anthony’s at Robert Finley Middle School last week. Touchdown ‘tries’ by Garner, Taylor and Sican.
Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00
The third- and fourth-grade Knights took to the road last weekend as they faced off against Jericho early Sunday morning, April 6. Jericho’s teamwork and hustle brought down the Knights by a final score of 5 – 0. The early game may have been a factor as the boys started to play better and more like a team as the game went on. Once again, goalie Tyler Shea played outstanding in goal and was relieved by Christian Maiorano, who did just as well in the second half. Andrew Guster played solid defense in the loss.