Beaufort County charities raise less holiday cash but still meet needs

rlurye@islandpacket.comJanuary 5, 2014 

Betsy Doughtie, executive director of The Deep Well Project, organizes bags containing the makings for Thanksgiving dinners in November at the organization's headquarters on Beach City Road.

FILE — File, Staff photo Buy Photo

With a flip of the calendar Jan. 1, charities across Beaufort County began to breathe a sigh of relief.

The passing of the holiday season also ends the bulk of local organizations' fundraising and giving, allowing the groups to tally their success and assess the changing needs of their communities.

While several organizations brought in less money than in 2012, leaders said they don't anticipate any problems meeting requests for help.

Bluffton Self Help raised $88,837.45, about $1,800 less than last year during its Christmas fundraiser. Executive director Lili Coleman said she was pleased with the results, which enable the agency to help residents with food, clothing, utilities and other needs.

Coleman said the new year will bring a focus on residents' health, as more people than ever are requesting help paying medical bills.

The agency also has launched a new online feature to ease the act of giving. Donors can sign up to make monthly contributions to the Red Apron Fund.

"There's a lot of people who consistently give to us every month, and they walk in and give us a check, so this just makes it much easier," Coleman said. "And it helps us develop programs by giving us an idea of how much money will be coming in."

The Deep Well Project, a nonprofit organization on Hilton Head Island, raised $256,303 as of Thursday, but has not closed its campaign yet. The charity had raised $267,211 during the same period last year, but went on to bring in another $23,000 in the first few weeks of January.

"We're still getting checks in," executive director Betsy Doughtie said.

Doughtie said she continues to be encouraged by a decline in the number of clients.

"It really is better," she said. "Whereas, in some areas of the country there truly are not any jobs at all, of any way, shape or form, here there are jobs."

Operation Holiday Heroes, a countywide toy and cash drive run through the United Way of the Lowcountry, brought in more toys this year but raised only $5,925, down from about $10,000 in past years, according to spokesman Ryan Copeland.

Copeland said the organization expected to be more successful, but still was able to serve everyone who qualified for help. Not only did more people apply, but Operation Holiday Heroes saw a wider variety of families this season. Applicants included not only single parents but grandparents and small families with one or two children.

"Maybe that indicates that even they were struggling; whereas, they didn't have to come forward in years past," Copeland said.

The shortfall in cash raised this year means the organization will have less money to jump-start its toy campaign in 2014, according to Chrystie Turner, director of allocations and community engagement.

But the community has proven it will rise to the challenge if the organization is in need, she said.

"We've just got to wait and see," she said. "It always ends up coming through in the end."

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

Related content:

Bluffton Self Help delivers on increased need through holidays, November 27, 2013

Deep Well picks up pace through holiday season, November 26, 2013

Operation Holiday Heroes gears up for season of giving, November 14, 2013

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