September 11th Hurt Some Local Charities, But Not Others

Local charities won't be able to include a donation from the city of Gulfport in their budgets this year. In an effort to cut spending, the Gulfport city council voted to not give money to any nonprofit organizations. Therefore some charities will have to look elsewhere.

After September 11th, some organizations say donations dropped here locally because so much money was sent to help victims of terrorism. One year later, some charities are still dealing with the same situation.

Volunteers from Keesler Air Force base served lunch to the needy at Loaves and Fishes in Biloxi. The soup kitchen is stocked with plenty of volunteers and food, but those who run the charity say donations of money are in short supply.

"Some months I'm not sure I'm going to be able to make all the expenses," said coordinator Rita Baldwin. "We manage, but you just aren't really sure."

Baldwin says donations took a big hit after September 11th and never rebounded.

"Summer is always a lean time because people are taking vacations and so forth, but I think it has been enhanced by what happened last September," said Baldwin. "I think a lot of the money that's donated locally has gone other places, and people feel like they've given, so they're not giving."

When local giving slowed, the United Way of South Mississippi had a plan "B" and pulled $100,000 out of reserves. That way agencies like the Salvation Army that depend on the United Way were spared some of the effects.

Meanwhile, a coast director of the Special Olympics says her chapter of that organization did not suffer a setback after September 11th, and that the people of Harrison, Hancock and Pearl River Counties have continued to be generous.

Director Peggy Lamey said "The people that we do solicit donations from, it's kind of a face to face thing. It's not phone solicitation or mail solicitation. We physically go to visit these people and they're familiar with our program."

Loaves and Fishes coordinator Rita Baldwin says the soup kitchen relies mainly on private contributions, but does receive funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the city of Biloxi. She says many times this summer the soup kitchen has gone two or three weeks without monetary donations.