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‘We still need help and generosity’

Area organizations geared to helping needy say donations matched last year, but work doesn’t stop after the holidays.

December 29, 2008|By Michael Alexander

Donors have saved Christmas for countless needy families, but what about the day after?

Kids brought toys into school, families volunteered at soup kitchens, and residents throughout Newport-Mesa gave in record amounts to charities this year, many aid workers said.

Still, though residents extended their generosity for the holidays in hard times, charity workers are saying that the need won’t end when the season does.

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While the need for extra help is increasing across the board, donations rose to match, said Elizabeth Evans, a spokeswoman for Share Our Selves, a Costa Mesa-based organization that provides a variety of services to the indigent.

“We’re coming out of a great holiday season,” she said. “We’ve had amazing donors coming through with clothes, household goods, toys. No one left unhappy or without some type of assistance.”

That’s a similar story to the one told by Jennifer Schulz, a spokeswoman for Newport Beach Fire Department, which plays a role in the annual Spark of Love toy drive.

Fire stations throughout the city received toys right up through Christmas Eve, she said.

“We were taking two and three truckloads out to the toy warehouse per day,” she said. “Everybody was very generous.”

Donations were comparable to last year’s, even with the bad economy, Schulz added.

Those involved in the countywide toy drive are already gearing up for next year, she said.

Toys received too late for this year are already headed to the warehouse so that they can fill early requests for help next November, she said.

“It’s really helpful to have those toys already, right at the very beginning,” Schulz said.

“We’ll already have orders right as it gets going, right after Thanksgiving.”

Evans and her fellow Share Our Selves employees are also looking ahead, but with more trepidation.

The organization was closed over Christmas, but opened Monday morning to a line of 150 people seeking aid, she said.

They all received some kind of help, but it will take work to keep it up, Evans said.

“It doesn’t end with January and February here,” she said. “The holidays are over, and we’re getting concerned about food donations going down. The primary concern moving into 2009 is keeping up the food pantry.”

IF YOU WANT TO HELP

Here are some local service organizations you can contact:

Share Our Selves: (949) 515-5400, shareourselves.org

Serving People In Need: (714) 751-1101, spinoc.org/home.htm

Someone Cares Soup Kitchen: (949) 548-8861, someonecareskitchen.org

Salvation Army: (714) 832-7100, salvationarmyoc.org

Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Orange County: (714) 633-9190, svdpoc.org


MICHAEL ALEXANDER may be reached at (714) 966-4618 or at michael.alexander@latimes. com.

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