The girls who call Jesse’s House home had a merry Christmas, thanks largely to community support.
Staff of the facility, which provides emergency and long-term housing for girls ages 7 to 17, spent three days sorting and wrapping all the Christmas gift donations, said Kristina Stahl.
“They had a very nice Christmas,” said Stahl, the facility’s residence coordinator. “Christmas morning, they unwrapped gifts and had a home-cooked meal and then went to a movie.”
The facility, which provides a home for up to 12 girls at a time, also received plenty of food donations during the holidays, for which the staff was grateful.
“This is great, but we’ll go through all this in a few weeks,” said Stahl as she surveyed the full kitchen pantry. “We have all the needs that any household has, but on a much larger scale.”
And those needs last all year, not just during the holidays.
All local nonprofit agencies seem to face the same challenge, said Sandy Beaver, director of The Place of Forsyth County.
“From Thanksgiving to the end of the year, we get the bulk of donations for the year,” she said. “Those donations help to carry us through the beginning of the next year, but the needs are continuous.”
The Place provides a range of assistance to Forsyth residents in need.
Beaver said the organization’s food programs provided close to $700,000 worth of food in 2011.
In addition, it gave out nearly $185,000 in financial assistance.
“That’s to prevent evictions, keep utilities from being disconnected and help people pay for medicines they need,” Beaver said.
The Place also has a thrift store. Friday, volunteers were busy sorting and hanging donations, many of which came in during the holiday season.
Beaver said reasons for giving so generously during November and December probably are largely due to the meaning of the season itself.
“When Thanksgiving is coming, people start thinking about giving thanks for all they have,” she said. “Then they start thinking about all the others who aren’t so blessed, so they say, ‘Oh, I need to give.’
“And at Christmas, well, who wants to see anybody have a miserable Christmas?”
Stacey Gravitt, who runs the First United Methodist Church food pantry, agreed.
“It is the season of giving,” she said. “Every day during the holiday season, we have people bringing in food and then it dies off.”
The end of the tax year may also play into the giving as well, with some people wanting to get as many tax deductions as possible.
“People don’t go out and buy food for a food pantry thinking about tax write-offs,” Beaver said. “But with clothing and other donations, yeah, there is some of that.”
Like Stahl, Gravitt said the church food pantry, which gives out items every Wednesday, currently has a lot of donations from the holidays.
“We get tons in November and December, but all the donated food is already about gone,” she said. “The needs don’t decline.”
While nonprofit leaders appreciate the holiday donations, they hope the public will continue to remember their seasonal generosity throughout the year.
“The state recently cut our [clothing allowance] for the girls, which means it’s now pretty much solely on us to get everything the girls need, from clothing to food to personal hygiene items,” Stahl said. “We’ll be relying even more on the community’s generosity.”
Added Gravitt: “The needs are year round. We’re here every week.”