The list of victims from the attacks of September 11 continues to grow: Area charities say donations to shelters and food banks have dried up as Americans have sent their contributions to World Trade Center-related relief efforts.
“There’s been a ripple effect across the country,” Dave Barringer, vice president of Goodwill Industries International, said at a meeting yesterday at the United Way in Southwest.
Some charity officials have expressed concern over that ripple effect, as they expect a decline in giving to help the area’s needy.
“I definitely think some people are tapped out,” said Adwoa Spencer, a manager of Capital Area Food Bank, which each month last year helped provide food to 150,000 people in the District, Maryland and Virginia.
Ms. Spencer said indications show area citizens have given so much to help victims of the terrorist attacks that they may feel unable to sustain or increase their contributions to local charitable organizations.
“Certainly a lot of money has been contributed to help the victims,” said Anthony De Cristofaro, marketing director of United Way. He added the aftereffects extended to the Washington area, requiring that “local gifts must be above and beyond.”
“The people we work with are in crisis all the time, so any additional crisis makes it worse,” said Lora Rinker, executive director of Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network. “If we have an increase in needs, and a decrease in funding, how do you handle that?”
Charities don’t cut services; they cut staffs, said Fe’lecia Holley, regional director of Catholic Charities at the Montgomery County Family Center in Wheaton.
Ms. Spencer said 30,000 area workers have lost their jobs since September 11, which may cause them to seek help from charities while they try to pay rent, feed children and find new jobs.
“Every day, there are people who have nothing to eat,” Ms. Spencer said. “Hunger tends to be overlooked.”
Mrs. Rinker said those who are newly unemployed have a better chance of finding new jobs than the homeless, who may have only recently been trained for the same job opportunity.
The effects of September 11 on local fund raising cannot be measured yet, charity officials said, but annual holiday and tax-deduction campaigns in November and December are crucial.
“Those are peak months for us,” Ms. Spencer said.
It was too early to know whether people who gave to the September 11 survivors’ funds felt too strapped to give to local charities, Ms. Holley said.
Some foundations that contribute generously to local charities each year indicate they also may curb donations.
Montgomery County emergency services providers still plan to donate 300 baskets of turkeys and other Thanksgiving food to needy families, gifts that have been substantially supported in past years by IBM. But this year, Ms. Holley said, IBM has put its donation “on hold.”
“They’re still going to do it. They just don’t know how much,” she said.
Religious and racial prejudices have affected charitable giving to some degree, too.
“There are people who don’t want a dollar to go to immigrants,” Ms. Holley said. “Particularly Muslims.”