Charitable giving down

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Charitable giving across the country was down 2 per cent last year, and 2009 could be worse.

In a recent survey of the nation's 400 largest chariities, half of them projected a decline of at least 9 per cent.

The annual Marine Toys for Tots drive was under way at Babies R Us in Hamburg Thursday, and more than 3 hours into the event, only a few toys had been dropped off.

Gunnery Sgt. Robert Ritchie, the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Co-ordinator in Lexington, told 27 NEWSFIRST, "We're going to do our best to collect toys and make sure they get to children in need because we want every child to have at least a little Christmas."

Some chairites are hoping to use name recognition to spur more giving this year. Thwe Toys for Tots campaign is joining forces with basketball star Shaquille O'Neal. Sgt. Richie says, "That's going to make a huge impact because Shaq is known aroud the world, and if he can't collect toys, I don't know who can."

At Salvation Army, they rely more on the goodness of people than any star power.

Major Steven Ashcraft, who co-ordinates services for Salvation Army, says, "In Lexington, we're in a very, very generous comminty that senses the needs of people around them, and we have the greatest resource available to us which is God who works in people's hearts to creat that generosity.

Major Ashcraft says some donors who in the past were major givers of $10,000 or more have given a lot less this year because of the squeeze on their finances, but thankfully those cutbacks haven't been seen across the board. "Those of the normal working class feel the squeeze also, but they're willing to give more because they realize that those who don't even have as much as they do are in greater need this year."

The Salvation Armey obviously keeps a close eye on the consumer spending numbers. Major Ashcraft says, "When the spending is down, the traffic in the mall and the stores is down, and it does cause us to be a little fearful, but locally the community has always seemed to come through."

The success of their annual Kettle Campaign also depends on the number of volunteers they get to ring the bell for them, and they hope every year new people will call the Salvation Army and volunteer their services.

Donations to United Way of the Bluegrass were down just slightly last year, but even with unemployment up in the area, they're still hopeful of reaching last year's 7 million dollar mark.

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