Salvation Army reports dramatic increase in clients

The Salvation Army has been busier than ever helping people in Lincoln meet basic needs.

The social service office has seen a substantial increase in demand for services, and ran a statistical report this week to measure the increases. The findings are dramatic. 

So far this year, the Salvation Army food pantry has already fed more than 2.5 times the total number of people it did in 2010. 6,483 individuals have been fed though the pantry in the first months of 2011. By way of comparison, The Salvation Army fed a total of 2,580 people in 2010. 

Also showing a dramatic increase is the number of people who receive utility assistance through The Salvation Army's Heatshare program. Similar to the food pantry, Heatshare numbers are already 240% higher than all of 2010. So far in 2011, The Salvation Army has helped 1,861 people with their utilities. A total of 774 people were helped through Heatshare in 2010.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Karen Cullinan says it is worthy to note that these are unduplicated numbers that do not include multiple visits throughout the year by the same family. These numbers also are comparing the first 9 months of the fiscal year of 2011 to the entire 12 months of 2010's fiscal year. If it continues at this pace, by the end of the year The Salvation Army will help 300% more people in both programs.

The Salvation Army believes a combination of factors have resulted in these increases. Economic conditions continue to affect the number of people in who seek help through The Salvation Army. “What we are finding now is that a lot of the people we serve are working and have income, but still need help every month,” said Captain Jamie Pennington. “Many people are underemployed, not making the same wages they did a couple years ago, and are struggling to make ends meet.”

Heatshare numbers have increased due to a variety of factors, but also because more money has been donated to the program.  “The more donations we receive, the more people we can help,” says case worker Ramona Moon. “When the money is out, we have to turn people away. We have been able to help more people this year because Black Hill Energy allocated more money for the program, but the need is still greater than our ability to meet it.”

The Salvation Army offers a variety of programs and services to help meet the basic needs of more than 20,000 people in Lincoln each year. For more information on how you can get involved and help support The Salvation Army's efforts in Lincoln, visit www.salvatioanrmylincoln.org or call 402-474-6263.