The Salvation Army gives away more than a third of its annual budget on other people’s rent, electricity bills, prescriptions and travel expenses, but this month, the charity is having a hard time meeting its own $2,500 electric bill.

“With the high cost of everything, and the amount going out, it’s just a strain on us right now,” said Major Charles Anderson with the Salvation Army in Corsicana.

“The summer is tough on agencies anyway,” he pointed out. “The high cost of utilities, gasoline, it’s hitting us hard. Our budget had no room to fluctuate.”

This past year, the Salvation Army helped 3,189 people with direct assistance for things like rent, food, clothing, prescriptions and utility bills, adding up to $142,689. That’s up almost 15 percent from fiscal 2006 when the Army helped 2,800 people, giving away $122,000 in direct assistance.

Rising costs of gas, rents and electricity have been hardest for the agency’s clients, and caused the Army to cut back its own expenses to try to help more.

“We had an employee leave and we haven’t replaced them. We’re cutting everywhere we can without cutting services,” Anderson said. “The last thing we want to do is cut services.”

The Salvation Army relies on donations, including those through the United Way; foundation grants, and some income from its thrift store for supporting its programs. The charity’s annual budget this last year was $399,000. It is budgeting $413,000 this coming year.

The last two years have been hard on the Corsicana facility, said Bishop John Baker, chairman of the board for the Corsicana Salvation Army.

“Ever since Katrina, we’ve never really gotten back on our feet since then,” Baker said. “We’ve never really settled down. And during the summer months, we seem to have a lot more needs during that time.”

In addition to the thrift store, and direct services, the Army also operates a shelter for the homeless and temporarily displaced. The shelter provided night stays for 1,800 people this past year, down slightly from 2,000 nights in 2006.

In order to meet the agency’s immediate needs, Anderson has been making personal appeals, as well as trying to get the word out about what the group actually does.

“We’re just reaching out to the community, hoping they’ll come through and help us out,” Anderson said. “The Army’s been good at doing our job, but not good about letting people know what we do.”

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Janet Jacobs may be contacted via e-mail at jacobs@corsicanadailysun.com

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