Summertime donation slump hurts Salvation Army programs

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - As the summer temperatures heat up, the Salvation Army is watching the number of donations go down. Salvation Army officials said the drop in donations is especially problematic because they are getting more requests for assistance. Two programs in particular are struggling.

If it weren't for the food that comes from the USDA, officials said the shelves at their pantries in Harrison, Jackson and George Counties would be even more empty than they are now.

"School's out. Kids eat so much in the summer time," said Business Manager Sally Lohrbach. "So we try to be very generous with our food bags when we know kids are home and not getting those meals at school."

Because of partnerships with 12 Baskets Food Bank and other groups, the Salvation Army is able to purchase the items it can't get from USDA like snacks and produce at reduced cost. However, once summertime comes, financial donations are so slow that they don't have the dollars to stretch.

"We served 376 families, which relates to 776 family members in April," said Lohrbach. "In May, we served 466 families, or 941 people. Now I don't have June stats, but we know how many people come through our doors. We know how busy we are packing the food bags, and we know how fast it's leaving our shelves."

A few years ago the Salvation Army started a laundry and shower service for the homeless at its Gulfport location. They also give out supplies and toiletries.

Drew Allen is on Salvation Army Board. He said, "During the summer time it increases because people are coming down to try to find a job. This time of year it increases, more than 350 [people a month]. That's 350 showers and 350 loads of clothes. You have to have supplies for that."

The Salvation Army officials said by making sure they don't run out of soap and more laundry detergent, the community can help make people facing hard times feel a little bit better.

"It's 90 degrees outside and 90 percent humidity. A nice cool shower and clean clothes means more than you think," Allen said.

The Salvation Army said they welcome any donations, whether it be food items or financial. For more information, call (228) 868-1188.

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