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Holiday Giving On The Rise

Salvation Army Christmas Day Volunteer Mike Fairchild
Salvation Army Christmas Day Volunteer Mike Fairchild


For the fourth year, World Vision has commissioned a survey on holiday giving. It finds most Americans cutting back on how much they’ll spend on gifts again this year. But charitable giving is making somewhat of a comeback.  KERA’s BJ Austin reports. 

Arnie Adkison is World Vision’s Southwest Regional Director, headquartered in Grand Prairie. He says more than 50% of those surveyed said they planned to give a “charitable” gift this holiday season. That’s up from 38% in 2009 at the height of the recession. At the same time, 70% of those surveyed say they’re spending less on holiday presents again this year because of the stalled economy.

Adkison: Some people are not trying to figure out not how to give the next great electronic gift to their kid, they’re trying to figure out are we going to have a good meal on Christmas? 

Adkison says for the first time, World Vision added “food baskets” to its list of gifts this year. 

Jan Pruitt, with the North Texas Food Bank, says the number of people seeking help at the Food Bank has grown tremendously. But Pruitt says even in these tough economic times, cash donations to the North Texas Food Bank are up slightly, and the number of volunteers has increased by a third.

Pruitt:  I think that in these times of uncertainty that we’re in, people are looking for meaning. Something happened to me with my granddaughter.  She’s 12 years old. And I asked her what she wanted for Christmas, and she said I really don’t need anything.  I just think there’s a message out there in our community about meaning in our lives, and how much is enough.

Pat Patey, with the Dallas-Fort Worth Salvation Army, says North Texans increased the level of giving this year, and came through for struggling families. He says that’s a good thing because 2,000 more children were added to the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program this year. Patey says this is the time of year people want to share what they have: their money and their time. That’s what Richardson businessman Mike Fairchild does on Christmas Day each year.

Fairchild: Twelve years ago, I found myself at Christmas time not having a place to go. I was by myself. And, I started looking around at various organizations that I might volunteer at. I volunteered in the kitchen that first year. And it’s something that is the highlight of my Christmas season.

Fairchild says for him, and many other North Texans, it’s the joyous season of giving, not getting.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.