Local charities look to new year for help in stocking up

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comJanuary 2, 2012 

Though Bluffton Self Help had a successful Christmas fund, the charity still has one big donation concern heading into the new year: Its food pantry is low. Non-perishable items are in short supply, as evidenced by the empty shelves surrounding volunteer Nancy Meyer in the organization's storage room.


Even after a Christmas season of giving, there are still needs to be met, several Beaufort County charities say.

Bluffton Self Help, the Deep Well Project and the Salvation Army have wrapped up their Christmas season fundraisers. Both Bluffton Self Help and Deep Well said their fundraisers went well considering the slow economy.

The Salvation Army, however, saw a disappointing drop in kettle donations.


Peter Bromley, the president of Bluffton Self Help's board of directors, said the organization is on pace to match or possibly beat 2010 Christmas donations. At last count, it had raised a little over $60,000. The money will be used throughout the year to help families and individuals facing emergency needs.

In 2010, Bluffton Self Help raised about $67,000, Bromley said. That was the first year the organization had made a concerted effort to raise money in December by coordinating with The Island Packet.

The Packet runs short stories on Bluffton Self Help and Deep Well throughout the holiday season and lists the names of donors to the organizations.

Bromley said he was pleased with the results, especially since Bluffton Self Help has also been seeking donations for its new quarters in Sheridan Park.

It has almost reached the $1 million goal it set to pay for purchasing and renovating the building, he said. The money will also help establish an endowment for operating costs for several years.

"We all expected (donations) would be down, given everything we read and see, not only nationwide but here in Bluffton," Bromley said, referring to the slow economy.

Bromley said the organization has seen record numbers in 2011 for those seeking help, about 25 percent more than in 2010.

Bluffton Self Help does have one concern heading into the new year: Its food pantry is low. Bromley said the charity could run out of supplies within two weeks without donations.


Betsy Doughtie, the director of Deep Well on Hilton Head Island, said requests for Christmas dinners were up in 2011, and they've climbed since the economic downturn began. The charity gives needy families the ingredients for a Christmas dinner, including a frozen turkey.

In 2011, 264 families received dinners from Deep Well, compared to 217 in 2010.

Deep Well is also on track with its Christmas fundraiser, Doughtie said. Since 2009, the organization has consistently netted about $300,000 during the holidays through its Empty Well campaign that is featured in the Packet. The money is used year-round to help families facing emergency financial hardships.

So far in 2011, it has raised about $272,000. More money usually comes during the first week of the new year, Doughtie said.

"We're very fortunate that the community always comes through," she said.


At the Salvation Army, donations were down for the organization's well-known Red Kettle Campaign, held every year from the Friday before Thanksgiving through Dec. 24.

"We've watched the kettles come in, and every day the kettles were low," said Sally Barth, bookkeeper at the organization's Beaufort office.

She estimated that donations were down about $13,000 in 2011 from 2010. In 2010, the campaign raised about $68,000, which was up some from 2009.

Barth said she wasn't sure how the donation dip would affect the charity, but was optimistic that its social services wouldn't be cut.

"We will still do what we do," she said. "There are other ways we might look to cut down. ... I hope it won't affect us too much."

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

Related content:

DEEP WELL: Providing support for families in need; Dec. 28, 2011

Bluffton Self Help caps year of changes by helping more people than ever; Nov. 23, 2011

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service