With Thanksgiving Approaching, Charities Worry About Donor Fatigue

ELMSFORD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — With Thanksgiving next week, the season of giving is upon us.

But as CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, charities across our area are worried that donors may be tapped out — especially after so many hurricanes, earthquakes and more.

At the Food Bank for Westchester in Elmsford Tuesday, middle schoolers were learning a lesson in giving by helping unload 1,000 frozen turkeys.

“It’s very important to me because I know that I enjoy having a turkey on the table during Thanksgiving, and I think everyone should have that,” said eighth grader Robbie Stein.

The students from Solomon Schechter Hebrew Day School and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic School joined forces.

“It allows us to know that we’re making a difference; that were helping those who are less fortunate than us,” said eighth grader Victoria Amaya.

And even in wealthy Westchester County, the help is much needed.

“I don’t think people are aware of the scope — one in five Westchester residents are hungry or food insecure,” said Ayesha Khan of the Food Bank for Westchester. “That’s 200,000 local residents.”

Despite generous donations, the food bank and other charities have one big concern heading into the holiday season — and that’s donor fatigue.

“We definitely do have those concerns, and it something that we talk about on a regular basis,” Khan said.

The hurricanes that devastated Houston, parts of Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean – along with the mass shootings at a concert in Las Vegas and a small church in Texas, have taken a toll on charitable giving. They have made many generous people reluctant to open their wallets again.

“They’re becoming desensitized,” said Alana Sweeny, president of Westchester/Putnam United Way. “They’re becoming worried. There tuning out, and they were saying, ‘You know what? I gave the first time. I can’t give again.’”

Nationally, the nonprofit United Way raised $49.7 million for Hurricane Harvey, but then only $12.7 million for the next two – Irma and Maria – combined.

But locally, the need is still very real.

“The people in Westchester and Putnam who were hungry the day before the hurricanes hit are still hungry the day after the hurricanes hit,” Sweeny said.

And while 1,000 turkeys certainly help, much more will be needed during the holidays.

The Food Bank for Westchester is hoping to raise $50,000 for its annual Feed a Family Campaign. For more information, click here.

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