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Local Charities Looking to Fill Needs Before Christmas

PEORIA - With more than $10,000 coming in red kettles across the county each day, you'd think the Salvation Army's financial goals are well within reach.
PEORIA - The devastating tornadoes that swept through Central Illinois in November challenged the Salvation Army's resources.

"That might have distracted them from their normal holiday giving or volunteering or whatever the case may be. So, we have an opportunity in these waning weeks to do that," said Rich Draeger, assistant development director for the Salvation Army.

With more than $10,000 coming in red kettles across the county each day, you'd think the Salvation Army's financial goals are well within reach.

But the Red Kettle campaign ends on Dec. 24. That's a big portion of the $1.67 million Tree of Lights campaign, which runs through the end of January. Once the bell ringers are finished for the season, the Salvation Army will turn to things like mail-in donations to help them reach their financial goals for 2014.

“We tend to see people slack off as the season goes on, so if they help us out by bringing these two days especially, it'll bring a good end to the kettle campaign," said Draeger.

After a slow start to its seasonal sponsorships, Friendship House officials were worried about covering its families, but now that need is filled. But now dropping temperatures have raised another pressing issue.

"The most urgent needs are for warm coats and blankets and scarves and gloves for the people who are out there, trying to survive in this cold," said Melanie McNiff, president and CEO for Friendship House.

Across town, people at the South Side Mission have been working long hours, bringing in food and other essentials for the season.

"I think everyone in our community is being asked to give a little more, to dig a little deeper, and we're certainly no exception to that," said Meg Newell, associate executive director for South Side Mission.

They'll be delivering more than one thousand meals on Christmas Day, but they're still stretching to fill needs locally, as well as in towns affected by last month's storms.
"Once that's stirred up, it tends to be more of a good flow in general. People want to, in the Christmas season, they feel like being generous and giving," said McNiff.

And even as they continue to wait for donations, Newell says she's grateful to live in a community that cares so much.

"We're not worried. God continues to provide and this is His mission. He will be faithful," said Newell.

If you're interested in helping the Salvation Army, please click here. For the South Side Mission and the Friendship House.

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