United Way says drop in donations means thousands of families won't get Christmas help

Posted at 10:56 PM, Dec 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-13 23:48:22-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Thousands of families relying on a small amount of cash to buy a Christmas toy and food to make a holiday meal will not be getting that help this year after the United Way announced it will only be able to serve half the people it was expecting to.

The organization says a drop in donations means it won’t be able to support all 5,000 families referred to the United Way Christmas Service this year. Instead, United Way anticipates it will only be able to help half that number.

RTV6 spoke to the mother of two students at IPS’ Edison School for the Arts who learned she would not be getting the help she anticipated this year.

“When you find out that you are not going to receive the assistance that you were relying on, it’s disappointing,” she said. “I am still trying to process that and hold my head up and come up with a plan.”

Penny Guthrie, director of advancement and engagement at the school, said she was told only three out of the 80 families they had hoped to help would be receiving assistance this year.

Guthrie had the daunting task of notifying the families that will not be getting assistance this year.

“It is a really hard phone call to make,” she said. “Because it is a struggle this time of the year for so many people. It is so hard to think of these kids going completely without when so many of us have plenty.”

The families who have been approved are expected to receive a $30 voucher.

“Thirty dollars sounds very trivial to a lot of people, but we have families that solely rely on that,” Guthrie said. “That is the money that will go for a toy for a student, and Christmas dinner, and it means a lot to families.”

The Edison School mom we talked to said the $30 means much more to her family than its face value.

“It is more about my children being able to wake up on Christmas morning and having something to open,” she said. “You can’t really put a price on that.”

Guthrie said Edison School’s teachers and staff are prepared to do whatever they can to make sure all the families who were approved for United Way Christmas help will get it.

“We will make sure that they will be taken care of. We just need to figure out how we are going to get there,” Guthrie said. “We are hoping with the kindness of other people in the city that we can pull this together.”

There’s still time to help. For information about how you can donate to the United Way Christmas Service, visit their website here.

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