The Rim country's two big community Christmas charities had a rough time of it this season.
Both the Optimist Club's Christmas food box and Santa's List campaigns had to meet the needs of more people with fewer contributions.
Irma Bramlet, coordinator for the food box project, said 365 boxes were built this year. Last year, the group filled 340. They had to cut back on the contents of the boxes, but Bramlet said they made sure all the boxes contained the things needed to make a Christmas dinner.
The Santa's List program granted the wishes of a whopping 1,000 people this year. But 200 gift requests on the Angel Trees went unclaimed, according to Barb Wilembrecht, who coordinates the project with Brenda Martell.
It seems local charities are not the only ones suffering. The same story is being told by numerous programs in the Valley. Among the reasons cited in a news story about the problem: the high cost of fuel and prescription drugs and the still-shaky economy.
While it is too late to make a difference in the success of this year's Christmas charities, there is still time to help for next year. Monetary contributions made to the Optimist Club for the Christmas food boxes or to Santa's List by the end of the year can help improve their outlook for the new year and help you with your tax returns for 2004. Both the programs are registered non-profit organizations and contributions are tax deductible.
Helping the less fortunate, while helping yourself -- what a great way to end the Christmas season and start the New Year.