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Donations down as economy hits budgets
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Needed items for Gabriel's House

• Baby items (bottles/liners, pacifiers, wipes)
• Pampers, pull-ups
• Car seats/toddler seats
• Jackets and clothes of all sizes, school uniforms (only new items)
• Toys, games, movies, books
• Shampoo/conditioner, body lotion
• School supplies, books
• Sporting equipment

Funds are low and debts are high, but even in times of economic fallout and uncertainty, locals are still finding ways to help the less fortunate.
Cub scouts currently are having their annual popcorn sale, taking the fundraiser public, asking for donations outside common shopping centers, like Wal-Mart and Lowes.
And according to Diane Chambers, the Liberty district popcorn chair for Cub Scout Pack 500, proceeds have remained constant, perhaps increasing slightly.
"I'm really shocked," she said. "I thought there would be a bigger drop because of the economy, but there's not really a noticeable difference."
Individual donations usually aren't large, but Chambers said the scouts have been able to maintain their number of contributors.
She thinks people are more willing to spare a dollar or two when they know it will support an organization that teaches character values and keeps children productive
"With the way the economy is, we understand (why some cannot donate)," Chambers said. "We're trying to help those kids who need this program."
However, local food bank Manna House currently isn't seeing steady donations, with a noticeable change in the last 60 days, according to director the Rev. Katrina Deason.
"We've noticed it in an upswing in need and a downturn in donations," Deason said.
Although many of the people Deason meets do work full-time, she said they just cannot seem to make ends meet.
"We've seen people who need help who generally would not be in the group that needs help," Deason said. "I think it's just tied directly to the economy."
Given the decrease in donations, Deason is concerned about preparing for the upcoming holiday season, but she expects next month's Thanksgiving drive to help.
While individuals are not giving as much as they have before, Deason appreciates area churches filling in the gaps.
Brigitte Shanken, director of volunteer services on Fort Stewart, hopes National Make a Difference Day on Oct. 25 will remind the community to help those in need by participating in volunteer activities.

Shanken is spearheading a joint effort between Fort Stewart units, Winn Army Community Hospital and any interested parties to support local foster care facility Gabriel's House by donating needed items.
"Even when things are tough, people are willing to give a hand," Shanken said.
Diane Groover, logistics and operations manager for Gabriel's House, said the nonprofit receives a few regular donations from individuals, but contributions can sometimes be few and far between. And the need extends year round.
 "Children are precious to us and we strive to provide for their needs," Groover said. "Just knowing that people are willing to give their time and resources is wonderful."
Groover said she isn't certain why donations have tapered off, but she thinks the public may not be aware the center exists.
"As far as the economy right now, that hasn't affected us that much, so it's hard to base it on that," Groover said. 
Shanken is hoping the donation drive goes beyond just filling a need of the less fortunate.
"If we can bring a smile to a child, we have conquered the world," Shanken said.
Deason said everyone eventually needs help from someone and people should give to be ready to receive later.
“As a whole, the country is going to have to go back to sharing what we have,” Deason said. “It's that great American spirit that's in us to say ‘I'll share what I have.’”
To find out more about participating in Make a Difference Day, contact Shanken at 435-6903.

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