Without the help of people in the community, charitable efforts like the American Red Cross' new holiday campaign would not be as successful.
The Greater Carolinas Chapter's new campaign, Gifts that Save the Day, allows people to donate through an online catalog at www.redcross.org/gifts. The online donations can be personalized or made in honor of someone.
Donations from the new campaign would help to provide food and shelter for disaster victims, a comfort kit for a wounded member of the military or to help with basic necessities for a family in need. All donations will be used to provide assistance where it is needed most within the program area.
Retired couple Brenda and Maynard Self of Statesville donate throughout the year to several local charities, including the Red Cross. They recently donated $1,000 to the Red Cross' Services to the Armed Forces program, which helps area veterans - a cause they make a point to support.
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"We really love our veterans and we thank them every day for our freedom, but there's no amount of money we could give that would thank them enough," Brenda said. "It's simple kindness, and we really need it all year. I would encourage anyone that can donate to do so, and not just during the holidays. Whether it's with time or money, any amount can help someone."
About $2,000 worth of basic supplies - from socks and toothpaste to deodorant and gloves - were collected from community drives or purchased using donations from the Selfs and people like them. Those supplies were divided into holiday care packages and donated last week to patients at the VA Hospital in Salisbury. The couple's donation made up nearly half of what was raised.
The local chapter of the Red Cross, which serves the Lake Norman area, had a 40 percent cut in funding this year from the United Way of the Central Carolinas, which led to budget cuts and staff reduction - all while trying to keep up with an increased demand of Red Cross services.
However, a national survey by the Red Cross found that support for charitable giving remains strong.
The survey revealed 20 percent of people planned to cut donations to charities, 17 percent planned on spending more and 62 planned to spend the same. Those numbers rose to as high as 44 percent in relation to cutting back on other holiday expenses, such as traveling and gifts.
Programs like the new holiday campaign are designed to help the most vulnerable people in the community.
"The money that we raise through our holiday campaign will literally help you or your next door neighbor," said Kate Meier, communications and marketing manager for the Red Cross. "If your house burns down or you're a victim of another disaster, the Red Cross will be there to help you. If you have a loved one (in the) military and there is a crisis or emergency in your family, we will be the agency to connect you with that loved one."
Meier said Susan and Jeff Purser of Cornelius have made a "sizeable" donation to the Red Cross annually for the past 15 years.
But the couple of 36 years also supports the Red Cross in other ways.
Jeff has donated blood off and on for about 35 years, and Susan has volunteered a half a day a week for the past year, driving people to and from dialysis treatment appointments.
"I look forward to visiting with them," she said. "You develop a relationship with them week after week, and you look forward to seeing them."
The donations of time and money also help fulfill a need that might not otherwise be available, she said.
"If there's a need the Red Cross is there," said Susan. "They couldn't possibly service the number of people they do without the help of people who make contributions of time and/or money. We've just always been very impressed with how the Red Cross is always there."