Charities working to maintain holiday programs amid COVID-19 pandemic

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The COVID-19 pandemic is creating challenges for charities across central Alabama, but they’re working to keep their holiday services and programs in place despite the difficulties.

The Jimmie Hale Mission will still serve its annual Thanksgiving Day meal and distribute meals to residents in need. They’ll just use more safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“To the best of our ability, we’re going to make sure that everyone gets fed, everyone gets cared for and stays safe and not get any exposure or have a risk or worry of catching coronavirus,” Chris Sykes, director of development and community relations for the Jimmie Hale Mission, said.

The mission has survived the pandemic so far without having to cut programs or lay off employees. It hasn’t been easy, though, with a significant decrease in donations.

“That might be due to own personal finances on each individual family,” Sykes said. “Maybe they have gotten laid off or they have to use some of that supplemental income otherwise. And we completely understand that.”

Volunteering, on the other hand, has been up this year. Sykes said that may be because people are spending more time at home during the pandemic.

“The public response is still there,” Sykes said. “And we are so thankful and blessed to have that many volunteers and people that, even though they might not be able to give this year, they are still able and willing to volunteer.”

Volunteering has been down, however, at the The Salvation Army of Greater Birmingham. Area Commander Major Charles Powell said the organization needs more volunteers to help with their holiday programs. He’s also hoping for more online donations this year. With fewer people out shopping, he thinks fewer donations will come in through the Red Kettle campaign.

As for Thanksgiving, the Salvation Army will still serve a meal, but only to residents of its shelter, not the entire community.


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