(Hidalgo County, Tx.) There are many groups and thousands of people in the Rio Grande Valley who do good things for our neighbors who need help most. But they — and the community — really couldn’t do without the Salvation Army.
The organization is where the rubber meets the road when families are truly in trouble.
And now the Salvation Army is having trouble.
The Christian nonprofit community outreach organization is seeking new means of funding as it faces a $49,000 budget deficit heading into its next fiscal year, which starts in three days.
The Salvation Army’s Emergency Shelter program, along with its lunch and dinner feeding programs and emergency welfare assistance programs, help between 175 and 200 people each day. The Salvation Army’s Executive Director, Maj. Dan Ford, said he doesn’t see that number declining anytime soon, and it continues to strain the organization’s funding — a total budget of $1.8 million next year. The recently completed census named Hidalgo County the neediest county in Texas with the lowest median income in the state.
That’s significant because if you’re a single mom with three kids in tow, no money, no home and literally no place else to go, The Salvation Army is where you turn first.
If the organization can’t backfill its deficit through fundraising or other sources, the Hidalgo County office faces cutbacks to part-time staff and emergency-assistance programs that helps people with food, rental payments, bus tickets and gas money. Three part-time staff have been cut already. If the organization’s funding situation becomes dire enough, full-time staff may be cut.
Lack of operating funds have also put The Salvation Army in a position where they are in danger of losing government grants. Without matching funds The Army cannot use the grant money because the funds can only be reimbursed from monies already spent. In order to spend government funds which are received from the State of Texas, Hidalgo County, and City of McAllen, the local agency needs operating funds as it takes sometimes over a month to get reimbursed.
One factor that has lead to reduced operating funds is The Salvation Army Thrift Store’s income shortfall. Store sales are down this year over $100,000 in Hidalgo County at the Army’s two stores located in McAllen and Weslaco. Last year the Thrift Store Program put over $140,000 into the Army’s Social Service Programs in Hidalgo County while this year only $80,000 was appropriated to those programs.
“The Salvation Army has done its part in cutting expenses this year by over $100,000”, says Major Ford, “ but still cannot meet operating needs without the community stepping up to help us help their neighbors in what is a very trying time for all of us. We never want to consider cutting programs and services but we are swiftly getting to that point unless we get help.”
Major Ford reports, “Donations totaling $150,000 would get The Salvation Army’s finances back on track but it needs to come quickly or programs cuts are imminent. For many, The Salvation Army is the last hope for help with food, shelter, and rent or utility assistance. The hardest thing to do is tell someone we cannot be there for them.”
If you can help, send your gift to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 4766 McAllen, TX 78502. You may also drop off your gift at 1600 N. 23rd Street in McAllen, or call Major Dan Ford at 956-682-1468 for more information. The organization is truly this community’s best friend in need.