Volunteers at the Eastern Oklahoma Food Bank prepare bags of food for school children earlier this year. Tulsa charities that serve the needy say it's not too late to help make up for lower than usual holiday donations. Photo courtesy NewsOn6

Tulsa charities that serve the needy say it’s not too late to help make up for lower than usual holiday donations. Photo courtesy NewsOn6

Donations for some Tulsa nonprofits that serve the needy were down leading up to Christmas but there’s still time to help.

Various factors — including recent cold weather, the energy sector and even technology — have caused some Tulsa nonprofits to struggle.

With more than 100 ‘Red Kettle’ donation locations in the area, The Salvation Army was in danger of falling short of its $800,000 goal. As of Thursday, the Salvation Army had raised $534,882.

DJ Morrow, development director of The Salvation Army, said more people will need help paying January’s electric bills because December had spurts of brutal cold weather in addition to unseasonably warm temperatures on Christmas.

The Salvation Army’s ‘Red Kettle Program’ uses monetary donations to support families and the homeless year round. Part of the contributions also fund a Utilities Assistance Program, which supports individuals struggling to pay for gas and electric bills during the cold months.

Morrow said she believes technology is to blame for the donation shortage this holiday season.

“This is a trend we are seeing nationwide,” Morrow said. “We all used to have money and pocket change while shopping, but so many people don’t necessarily anymore.”

The Salvation Army uses a combination of paid and volunteer bell ringers to promote the Red Kettle Bell program. The cold snap earlier this month made it difficult to get volunteers to stand out in the cold and complete a shift.

Though technology is hurting The Salvation Army’s on-site funding, online donations are higher than usual.

Other organizations that provide assistance to the poor, especially during the holidays, are also seeing lower numbers during December.

Eileen Bradshaw, executive director of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, said financial pressures in the energy sector means many Oklahomans have less to donate during the holidays.

“We still have donors that are supporting us and we are grateful, but because of energy we have donors saying, ‘We want to help, we just can’t match or do what we were able to do last year or before.’

“So we are hoping to find new donors during this period,” Bradshaw said.

Local nonprofit organizations use donations to feed, house and support the homeless and individuals in need year round, but especially throughout the holiday season.

“Tulsans are always generous and this year has been a difficult year,” said Steve Whitaker, executive officer for the John 3:16 Mission. “November was strong, but December has been slow and we understand people are struggling, but we can always use monetary donations.”

With monetary donations, the John 3:16 Mission is able to continue to provide a meal, bed and shower for an individual at the low cost of $2.11.

Through December 31, the Food Bank is taking monetary gifts for the “Fill Your Plate Challenge.” All donations will be matched by the George Kaiser Foundation, allowing $1 donations to provide eight meals.

However, if individuals can’t donate money there are other ways to lend a hand and support charitable causes. Whitaker asks citizens to clean out closets and donate clothes.

“We always need blankets and clothes and if they are able to buy and supply unused socks and underwear, which is a shortage during the winter months, that is also helpful,” Whitaker said.

The Iron Gate feeding program asks people to donate and drop off used plastic or paper bags if they can’t donate money to the organization, which provides meals and groceries to the poor.

“Iron Gate uses about 800 bags a week in their grocery pantry,” Hoey said.

Donating used grocery bags helps the organization spend more money on other materials such as food. Members of the community can drop off used bags at Iron Gate, 501 S. Cincinnati Ave,, or at Trinity Episcopal church in the drop off location.

Though nonprofit organizations in the Tulsa area are grateful for monetary or tangible donations, Bradshaw said one other good way to support nonprofits is participating in conversations about federal funding programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act.