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Published: Tuesday, 1/12/2010

Ottawa County Salvation Army exceeds its goal; United Way close

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

As more Ottawa County residents need financial help, both the Salvation Army and United Way were able to get close if not exceed their recent seasonal fund-raising goals.

The Salvation Army in Port Clinton, which serves Ottawa County, exceeded the $45,000 goal for its red kettle campaign by nearly $8,000, Maureen Saponari, director, said.

The organization had 373 red kettle volunteers who put in 1,186 hours for the campaign, said Ms. Saponari. The collection amount rose dramatically the week before Christmas, she said.

“The community's just so generous,” Ms. Saponari said. “It is so worth it when you see the giving of the community.”

Officials of the United Way in Ottawa County, meanwhile, for its annual campaign had set a goal of $400,000, the amount it neared in a blockbuster 2008. But they reset the goal to $283,000 and came within a few thousand dollars, said Chris Galvin, director of the United Way in Ottawa County.

“It wasn't bad,” Ms. Galvin said. “I'm real happy with the $274,522 that we have.”

Both the Salvation Army and Ottawa County Transitional Housing have had an increase in the number of county residents seeking help with utilities, rent, and other expenses this winter.

Ottawa County Transitional Housing, a nonprofit agency that also has a homeless shelter for women, has had a 60 percent to 70 percent spike in those seeking help, said Linda Hartlaub, agency director.

“We are swamped,” Ms. Hartlaub said.

In fact, the agency will not have money to pay existing pledges of help to landlords and utilities until February, Ms. Hartlaub said. Some of its funding comes monthly, while some comes quarterly, she said.

Word is getting out about assistance offered by the agency, so people are seeking help before they are in a crisis, Ms. Hartlaub said. Ottawa County Transitional Housing also works with other relief groups, including the Salvation Army and WSOS Community Action Commission, she said.

Both Ms. Hartlaub and Ms. Saponari said they have clients who have never needed financial help before. Medical bills and other unusual expenses are part of their troubles, Ms. Saponari said.

Before Christmas, the Salvation Army was seeking holiday toy donations for about 225 children and was able to satisfy that need, Ms. Saponari said. People donated new toys, blankets, and clothing; Toys for Tots helped, she said.

The Salvation Army received 848 donated coats this winter, Ms. Saponari said.

The United Way's Ms. Galvin said she was pleased that school children and staff increased contributions this year.



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