CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Covenant House has had almost 10,000 more client contacts this year than just two years ago, the organization's executive director said.
In 2010, Covenant House -- a day shelter in Charleston that serves as a safe haven for people dealing with homelessness -- had 30,661 client contacts, compared to 40,000 this year. However, the individual contributions - the number of people who donated money -- have increased 190 percent in just the last year, according to executive director Ellen Allen.
Charitable donations made to some nonprofit organizations in the Kanawha Valley seem to be up this year, but so is the number of people needing assistance, nonprofit officials say.
Donations, especially clothes and food, also are up this year at Covenant House, Allen said.
"Our donations are up quite remarkably from the previous year. The community has responded and we are really blessed," Allen said. "It means that we will be able to buy coats for children and work with utility companies to help somebody pay their bills."
Smaller monetary donations made to Manna Meal increased in 2012, said Jean Simpson, executive director of the soup kitchen that serves two meals a day in downtown Charleston.
"We've ended up with a lot of people sending a small amount - $20, $50, $100 or $10 -- but with that it created quite a bit of money," Simpson said.
And even though Manna Meal is receiving more donations, Simpson said she has seen an increase in the number of people who need a hot meal.
"Normally we have about 130 [people eat] on Christmas Day and this year we had 180, which surprised me," Simpson said. "I didn't see a lot of families, I saw more single men and woman eating. We used to basically just be feeding the street people, now we're feeding low-income service workers."
Admitting that the charity is doing well is something that scares Simpson.
"It's difficult to talk about if I tell the truth," she said. "People will say, 'Well, we don't need to send money. They're OK.'"
Likewise, Allen said, "We don't want people to quit donating but we want to acknowledge their generosity."
While the Charleston community is largely supportive, Covenant House wouldn't get by without the generosity of businesses and churches, Allen said.
About 30 different churches help out by making hygiene bags for homeless people and organizing food drives.
TRG Enterprises hosted a food drive within the company that collected 3,700 pounds of food, Allen said. Another local business, One Stop, hosted a food drive, too, that brought in more than 1,000 pounds of food.
Earlier this year, The Greenbrier resort donated 150 toys to Daymark, an organization that advocates and provides support and shelter for at-risk youth and their families, said Vicki Pleasant, the shelter's executive director.