More proof that residents of northeastern Kentucky continue to experience economic hard times: Donations to The Independent’s Needy Families Fund were down significantly this year.
In fact, the decline from the 2011 to 2012 was the sharpest in the four years since the agencies that benefit from the fund took over its administration from the newspaper.
As of Wednesday, with contributions still trickling in, giving to the fund to the $23,365.85, said Trish Hall, executive director of Community Assistance and Referral Service Inc, or CAReS. Last year, the brought in $30,813, and, in each of the previous two years, donations totaled about $33,000.
Hall said she believed the still-stagnant local economy was the primary reason for the dropoff.
“You just have to assume times are hard,” she said.
Hall said she believed there were some who donated to the fund in the past couldn’t afford to do so, and that those who could afford to give were more cautious about doing so because of the economic uncertainty.
CAReS and the Salvation Army each receive 40 percent of the money donated to the Needy Families Fund, which Helping Hands and Project Merry Christmas — which assist families in Greenup and Carter counties, respectively — each receive 10 percent.
The Needy Families Fund was launched in 1988 by then-Independent publisher John Del Santo, and for the first 20 years of its existence, the collections were funneled through the newspaper. However, four years ago, the four non-profit agencies that benefit from the fund assumed management of the fund-raising effort with the donations going through CAReS.
Hall said CAReS also experienced a decline in holiday giving through its Giving Tree program. A total of 773 youngsters were helped through the program this year, compared with 932 in 2011, she said.
The Salvation Army also reported a major dropoff this year in giving to its Christmas kettles. Maj. Darrell Kingsbury said total donations were down by $9,000 from last year, which put the agency $13,000 under its goal.
KENNETH HART can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or