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Charity drives coming up short

Two of Spokane County’s biggest holiday charity drives are well short of their goals less than a week before Christmas.

But the development directors for both Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army remain optimistic. As of Thursday, Catholic Charities had raised $239,000 from more than 1,400 donors for the 2007 Christmas Collection, short of the agency’s goal of $750,000, said Loreen McFaul.

It wouldn’t be the first time McFaul has seen donations rally before year’s end. The 2006 collection was down $160,000 from the previous year only to wind up surpassing the goal by more than $80,000.

“The big day of analysis is Dec. 27, when we receive the post-Christmas mail,” McFaul said. “The reality is people are moved and motivated by the work Catholic Charities does.”

Each year, the agency helps an estimated 50,000 people through its 15 social-service programs.

This year, parishioners also have been asked to contribute $10 million toward the $48 million bankruptcy settlement between the Spokane Diocese and victims of child sex abuse. Donations to Catholic Charities, however, will go to fund programs for the community’s most needy.

Meanwhile, the Salvation Army of Spokane has raised $274,000 toward its goal of $470,000, development director Elaine Baldwin said.

Money raised through the Red Kettle and direct mail campaigns will help fund such services as the Salvation Army Family Resource Center, Camp Gifford, Sally’s House, transitional housing for the homeless, and the Sports and Aquatics Center.

“Unfortunately, our fundraising has fallen short of the increased need,” Baldwin said.

Though the Red Kettle Campaign is 36 percent below projected income and direct mail is 49 percent below the mark, “there is still time, and there usually is a jump in the last 10 days of December,” Baldwin said.

There is some good news among Spokane charities, too.

The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund was very close on Thursday to its goal of raising $485,000, newspaper correspondent Susan English said.

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation has filled Christmas wish lists for 3,700 families with about 400 more to be filled by Sunday, said Gunnery Sgt. Tarek Aissaoui, of Battery P, 5th Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment.

Aissaoui said the program will provide toys to 13,000 to 14,000 children despite “starting off in the hole” because of a toy recall earlier this year that forced the Marines to dump numerous items that had been held in reserve from last year because of safety concerns.

The Tree of Sharing holiday gift program also provided gifts to 6,000 people this season, program coordinator Dru Powers said. The program, which concluded Dec. 11, used cash donations to cover a shortfall in gift-giving this year.