Wichita Salvation Army donations down, could force service or staff cuts

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita Salvation Army is in desperate need of donations. Officials say the non-profit is more than $700,000 below its end of the year goal.

Salvation Army officials said if more money does not come in soon, the organization may be forced to make cuts to staff or services.

“Right now, we are at about 57 percent of our $1.7 million goal. The kettle program is behind about $50,000 where we were last year at this point in time, so that makes us a little apprehensive about the next few days,” said Major Joseph Wheeler who is the Commander of the Wichita Salvation Army.

KSN asked Wheeler what will happen if the non-profit does not reach its monetary goal.

“We have to take a very serious look at staffing. We have to take a serious look at programs and how far reaching they can be,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler said he has already had to cut 60 staff positions since last year. Some of the positions were part time, while others were full time.

“We have had a tremendous decrease in staff because of the loss of HUD funds,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, was greatly decreased this year because the federal government decided it would no longer fund the Salvation Army’s transitional housing program.

“HUD has decided not to fund transitional housing, so we have gone back to our original purpose of having an emergency shelter and taking short-term housing instead of long term,” he said.

That’s why this year’s donations are more important than ever. However, Wheeler said it seems fewer people are giving this year compared to the years in the past.

“You know, 20-years ago, 25-years ago the Salvation Army was the key fundraiser during this time of the year. That’s the not the case today, so there’s a lot of competition for the dollar because there are a lot of people trying to make a difference in the community,” he said.

Wheeler said if more donations do not come into the Salvation Army, the organization’s advisory board will have to decide what programs will get the funding.

“If we don’t reach the 1.7 million goal, then the advisory board has to look seriously at all of our programs and start weighing them by validity, which is more important than the other and where will we put the money that we do have to make an impact in the community,” he said “We don’t want to make those decisions, but we have to be realistic.”

The $1.7 million pays for programs and services for 2017. It does not go toward this year’s holiday assistance program. That has already been taken care of, according to Wheeler.