Wichita The generosity Kansans demonstrated in giving to victims of the Sept. 11 attacks made the Salvation Army concerned that nothing would be left for the charity's services in rural areas.
But those fears were unfounded, the Salvation Army announced last week.
"We're ahead of last year right now," with almost $500,000 dedicated for rural communities in Kansas, said Danny Kohrs, associate director of development for the Salvation Army of Western Missouri and Kansas.
That number could actually be higher, as the processing of donations was slowed by the recent ice storm that shut down the Kansas City, Mo., office.
Kohrs said the increase in donations is coming just in time.
"I think the need right now is going to be greater than ever, with the faltering economy and what we have experienced since September," he said.
The Rev. Will Haworth, a Salvation Army volunteer coordinator in Hays, said the outpouring of help for New York was necessary.
"But we still have local needs to meet throughout the year," he said. "We basically have one shot at it, from Thanksgiving to New Year's. ... If we don't have it then, we don't have it throughout the year."
A higher than usual number of bell ringers in Hays this Christmas season brought in $14,500, a 29 percent increase, Haworth said.
While the public typically perceives the Salvation Army as an urban organization running homeless shelters and soup kitchens, the organization provides services in "every ZIP code in Kansas," said Roger Alexander, director of development for the Salvation Army of Western Missouri and Kansas.
Services offered range from providing eyeglasses for low-income children to assisting people with their rent, utilities and grocery bills. The rural service extension units serve about 28,000 to 30,000 people each year, Kohrs said.
They answered the call in Hoisington after a tornado there last spring. Salvation Army volunteers served meals for about a month to victims and to thousands of other volunteers, said city manager Allen Dinkel.
Alexander said the Salvation Army still meets with Hoisington officials every week to address ongoing needs after the April 21, 2001, tornado that killed one person, injured 28 and caused $43 million in damage.