LACONIA — The shortest Christmas shopping season possible, with only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, coupled with a still slow recovery from the depths of the Great Recession, is seen as the cause of a major shortfall in charitable giving this holiday season.
The local Salvation Army kettle drive is far below its usual level and other holiday charities are experiencing similar drop-offs, including the Toys for Tots campaign which is run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
''The response has been very light so far and we're very concerned about that,'' says Carl Deprospo, sales manager at Cantin Chevrolet, which has for years been a drop off spot for new toys donated to the drive.
Deprospo says that in order to encourage more giving, dealership owner Tom Cantin decided this week to match dollar for dollar the value of gifts that the firm's friends and customers take to the Toys for Tots collection bin at the company's Union Avenue location.
''All the donor has to do is to provide a receipt with the toy they bring in and Cantin's will match it. It will double your gift. It's a great cause and your gift can make the difference between a child having something under the tree or not,'' says Deprospo.
''We need to get more toys and we're hoping to get the word out there about our matching donation to encourage people to give. We've only got a short time to make this happen and we're hoping our friends and valued customers will pitch in along with us to help make it a happy holiday season for children all over the area,'' says Deprospo.
He said that gifts for pre-teens, as well as young children, are particularly needed.