Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 17, 2013

Needy Families Fund on 25th year

John Cannon
The Independent

ASHLAND — Representatives of four nonprofit agencies in three counties that receive money from the annual Needy Families Fund are hoping the silver anniversary of the campaign will inspire businesses, service clubs, Sunday school classes, families, individuals and many others to dig a little deeper into their pockets to make Christmas a little brighter to families in Boyd, Greenup and Carter counties.

The 25th annual campaign kicks off today with the annual Magical Night of Giving at the Ashland Town Center.

Today also will mark the launching of the annual Giving Tree program by Community Assistance and Referral Services, or CAReS.

The names of more than 600 children from low-income families will on the trees at the Ashland Town Center and at Chick-fil-A on Riverhill Drive. Supporters of the Giving Tree select a card or cards from the tree bearing the gender, age and clothing sizes of the child, along that child’s “wish list” for Christmas. Those selecting cards buy presents for their child and bring their purchases back to the Giving Tree to be wrapped and distributed.

In 2012, 773 children received Christmas gifts through the Giving Tree, said Trish Hall, the executive director of CAReS. While it was something of a challenge to buy gifts for so many children, she said, “No one went without a gift. The people of this very giving community came through, as they always seem to do. Without them, we could not exist.”

For a number of years, the Needy Families Fund annually generated within a few dollars of $33,000. That changed on 2011, when giving dropped some $3,000 to $30,813, but the decline was even more dramatic a year ago in brought in $23,366, a decline of more than $7,300.

Hall said she thought the decline in giving was a result of the region’s still weak economy.

“Even when the economy was hurting, we continued to maintain a high level of giving,” Hall said. “I think that speaks well of this community and the generosity of its people. Last year the economy just caught up with us. Individuals have always given generously, and last year we had some people who had lost their jobs and just weren’t able to give like they had in the past.”

This year she is hoping giving will rebound after  a couple of down years.  “This I do know: The needs have not changed.  If anything, they have gotten worse," Hall said. “But the people of this area are very kind and generous. I am confident they will come through and help us like they always have.”

The Needy Families Fund was launched in 1988 by former Independent publisher John Del Santo, and for the first 20 years, the collections were funneled through The Independent. However, five years ago the four agencies that receive funds through the campaign — CAReS and the Salvation Army in Boyd County, Helping Hands in Greenup County and Project Merry Christmas in Carter County — assumed management of the fundraising effort with donations going through CAReS instead of the newspaper.

CAReS and the Salvation Army each receive 40 percent of the donated funds with Helping Hands and Project Merry Christmas splitting the remaining 20 percent. As has been the case since 1988, all gifts go directly to the four agencies. All those working on the campaign are volunteers.

Donations to the Needy Families Fund can be delivered to the CAReS office in the Neighborhood at 2616 Carter Ave., mailed to CAReS at P.O. Box 1503 or made electronically at boydcountycares.org. All donations are tax deductible. Checks should be made out to Needy Families Fund.

JOHN‚ÄąCANNON can be reached at jcannon@dailyindependent.com or at (606) 326-2649.