Anonymous donor makes area challenge
Dec 11, 2012 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
An anonymous donor has issued a generous challenge to the residents of Odessa: a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $50,000 for the Salvation Army's Empty Stocking Fund. And his challenge has taken the Salvation Army officials off guard.
If matched, the money raised would put the holiday fundraiser over the $105,000 goal set by new Odessa Corps Officers Joe and Monica Contreras. As of Tuesday, the fund had $18,448.
"We were looking at the numbers and you start to worry you're not going to make it and then God shows up," Joe Contreras said. "We just have to remain faithful and believe he will provide."
The Empty Stocking Fund -- a joint venture of the Salvation Army and Odessa American -- is used to give Christmas gifts and meal baskets to families in need. The OA runs daily stories on 1A throughout the campaign to highlight families in need.
Salvation Army bookkeeper Kathy Goheen, who has worked with the nonprofit for more than 20 years, said she felt the anonymous donor wanted to remain so because he was a good "Christian man."
"That's how it is around here," Goheen said. "Odessa is full of some very generous people, and that's what keeps us going."
Money raised through the fundraiser goes to help local families, but Goheen said the organization is also beneficial to keeping their doors open. Described as the main fundraiser, money left over from the Empty Stocking Fundraiser also helps pay for the Salvation Army's utility bills and helping provide food and shelter.
In fact, Goheen said the shelter has been constantly busy because of the oil boom and the bustling economy.
"People can work, but they don't have anywhere to live," Goheen said.
But in her time with the Salvation Army, Goheen said she isn't too worried. Late donations have seemed to be the trend among Odessa residents.
In 2011, an anonymous donor donated $50,000 to the fund on the second-to-last day of fund raising to surpass the then set goal of $95,000. The same thing happened in 2010 when local company Aghorn Energy Inc., donated a $50,000 check. The final total raised both years was more than $100,000.
For Joe Contreras, who has been with the Odessa Salvation Army since June, the $50,000 match donation is the largest single donation he has ever seen. The second-largest Contreras said he's seen was $30,000 raised during a fundraiser.
"Yesterday was a huge blessing," Contreras said. "If people match the $50,000, that will really put us over our goal."
--Contact Nathaniel Miller on twitter at @OAgovernment, on Facebook at OA Nathaniel Miller or call 432-333-7769
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