@:Family registration for “A Refuge Community Christmas” concludes Friday and over the past few weeks the third-year nonprofit that partners predominately with East Cleveland neighborhoods has already signed up as many as 300 local children.
More are expected.
This comes as no surprise to Kelli Kyle, director of Community Involvement for The Refuge. Kyle’s organization, which is housed in the heart of its service area on Blythe Avenue in the Family Support Center, last year projected the 2012 requests for aid could be even larger than the prior two years.
Increased need is caused by a still sluggish economy, one whose biggest contributing challenge is unemployment and underemployment, she said. However, this year’s donations — financial, children’s toys and other types of contributions — are lagging far behind the number of registrations.
“Donations are very slim this year and it seems it is not just us,” Kyle said. “We are still in need of many, many more donations. We are far behind in toys for the amount of children we will have once registration concludes on Friday.”
Other nonprofit organizations are reporting slow response as well. One is the annual William Hall Rodgers Christmas Basket Fund which, at last reports, had received about $6,500. The goal is $28,000. The basket fund hopes to provide boxes of food staples for almost 1,000 eligible families who have registered.
Another is the Salvation Army Angel Tree program which has extended its deadline to Dec. 9. Salvation Army this year registered 4,763 angels, a 39 percent increase in need over last year. The program is still 1,149 angels shy of its original requests for assistance.
Of The Refuge’s Christmas program, Kyle said the Cleveland and Bradley County community has always shown strong support.
“At this time of year, families are being approached by many civic causes,” Kyle said. “They’re doing all they can for their own loved ones and are also being asked to assist with a variety of community needs. But it truly is hard to make these kinds of community events happen without the help of the community.”
The Refuge, formerly recognized as The Refuge Community Centre before a name and logo change earlier this year, will continue to accept new toy donations in collection barrels at American Trust, Big Lots, Christ Way Church Youth Group, First State Finance, Lakeview Church of God, New Covenant Church of God, Southern Roots Hair Salon, Yates Primary School, Fulin’s Asian Cuisine, and Hollywood Body and Spa.
Another facet of The Refuge Community Christmas is the “Fill A Child’s Heart” campaign whose sponsorship levels are $2, $5 and $10. Through these purchases of “hearts,” The Refuge buys gifts for its families who have been approved for The Refuge Community Christmas. Donors’ names are placed on a “Christmas Heart” and displayed publicly at a variety of locations.
“Fill A Child’s Heart” displays can be found at Cici’s Pizza, Southern Roots Hair Salon, American Trust, First State Finance, Casa Nachos, T.J.Maxx, the Durkee Road Church of God of Prophecy, Fulin’s Asian Cuisine and Hollywood Body and Spa.
Toys and “Hearts” donations may continue to be made at each of the listed businesses through Friday. After that, all monetary donations will be accepted at the office and online through Friday, Dec. 14.
Final days for family registration are today and Friday, from 9 a.m. to noon. The Refuge offices in the Family Support Center are open Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week.
Questions about any facet of The Refuge Community Christmas, or about The Refuge, may be directed to 423-584-5211.
Through its community projects, The Refuge seeks to empower its families through various initiatives in financial literacy, computer instruction, insurance literacy, housing, employment and other projects. The Refuge works to build self-esteem in its family clients, both the parents and the children.