Madison charities brace for less giving and more need this holiday season - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Madison charities brace for less giving and more need this holiday season


Madison (WKOW) -- A struggling economy has non-profits struggling to help those who need it the most.

Madison charities are bracing for a holiday season where those in need greatly outnumber those who give.

That worries Porchlight Incorporated's Executive Director Steve Schooler. 

Schooler says Porchlight helps serve Madison's 3,500 homeless men, women and children.

One of the busiest shelters Porchlight operates is the men's drop-in shelter at Grace Episcopal Church on Capitol Square. 

Schooler says the lines for a warm breakfast at the church are always long, but he expects even more hungry people as the temperatures drop and the economy continues to decline.

"We have seen an uptick. We're really bracing for an increase in men because of the economic situation we're in," explains Schooler.

The economy is what "James" blames for his nightly stays at the shelter.

"I just fell into an abyss that I couldn't get out of," James says.

James says he was a nurse at Saint Mary's for nine years, but after some health problems and a few bad checks, he was evicted from his apartment.  He now sleeps and eats at the shelter.

Unfortunatley, James' situation is not unique.

"The need is getting greater and the resources to help that need are potentially decreasing," Schooler says.

Schooler says Porchlight's yearly budget totals $3-million with 13% coming from donations which are mostly given during the holidays.

This year, Schooler expects up to $75,000 less under the tree.

He's warned staff of a salary freeze.

After that, Porchlight may cut extra services - like the van that takes homeless men to a hospitality house where they can look for jobs.

"We're committed to making this work. We'll do whatever it takes to provide the services...That we're committed to," says Schooler.

Schooler's hoping Madison's generosity comes through this holiday season.  He says it doesn't take a lot to help.  Just $11 can pay for a night at the shelter and $200 can help an entire family avoid eviction.

Send questions and comments to Vanessa Shirley at

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