KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It’s the time of year when the Salvation Army bell ringers disappear from storefronts, but advocates say it's also the time of year when the need is the greatest.
“Many need help with their utility bills now that it gets colder,” said Maj. David Harvey with the Salvation Army, “because we don’t want them getting shut off in the winter when it’s the most challenging.”
In fact, the start of a new calendar year kicks off one of the busiest times for staffers at the Salvation Army.
“Fifty percent of our Christmas goal will be raised right now, in January, with people receiving our mail and sending in a gift,” Harvey said.
Officials at Harvesters Community Food Network said they don’t worry too much about the so-called donor fatigue, necessarily, but they did say it’s a critical time of year for hungry families.
“Thousands of kids in the community have now been out of school for two weeks,” said Sarah Biles with Harvesters. “And they’re just now getting back after the holidays. Many children have not been getting the free and reduced lunch meals at school.”
Biles also fears a prolonged federal government shutdown could make this a particularly difficult winter for some families.
“If the shutdown continues for more than a few more weeks, we could be seeing a lot more people turn to our network of pantries and shelters,” Biles said.
Both Harvesters and the Salvation Army urge people to remember families and individuals in need as the holiday season begins to fade into memory.
“We’re here 365 days a year, and we pray that the donors are there to help us out,” Harvey said.