Requests to the Salvation Army for Christmas food baskets and other help are up this year and contributions are down, Salvation Army officials in Los Angeles said Tuesday, but they are trying not to worry too much about it--yet.
The pattern is the same around the country, according to the Associated Press, with both mail and Red Kettle donations slightly less than in past years at this point in the holiday season. One explanation, noted officers of the charity organization in several cities, is the fewer number of shopping days this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In Boston, the Salvation Army received a sudden spate of contributions Tuesday after it announced it would have to start turning away new applicants for Christmas help. But in Cleveland, officials did cut off new applicants for Christmas aid Monday--temporarily, at least.
More Seeking Shelter
The Salvation Army's national communications director, Lt. Col. Leon Ferraez, said in Verona, N.J., that the number of people seeking shelter alone throughout the country increased from 1.9 million in 1983 to 2.45 million last year. "We think we have an even larger percentage of increase in 1985," he said.
In Los Angeles, Salvation Army community relations director Barry Frost said requests for aid from families and homeless individuals this year are up 24%, while contributions have been "spotty."
He estimated that income from the street-corner kettles is about 7% below the previous year's collection, "but that is not too bad, considering the fewer number of days."
Record Number of Applicants
Maj. Leslie Hood of the charity organization's Zahn Memorial Center for Social Services in Los Angeles said the center is receiving "a record number" of applicants for baskets and other forms of Christmas aid. He estimated that requests in the Central Los Angeles area total more than 2,500, contrasted with less than 2,000 last year.
The central area army district already has stopped accepting requests from people on welfare, he said, referring them to their social workers for assistance from other organizations. But the elderly and the needy in other non-welfare program categories are still being added to the help list, he said.
Hood pointed out that the existence of several strikes is another reason for contributions being down. "That's working people who don't have money (to give)," he said.