By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Even after bringing in what appears to be a record amount at this year’s Empty Bowls Luncheon, Tupelo’s Salvation Army is taking further steps to belt-tighten in the throes of a bad economy.
Last month the Army’s biggest annual fundraiser to support its feeding programs brought in $50,000, with some expenses still to be accounted for. Last year the luncheon cleared just more than $40,000.
But even that won’t prevent the Tupelo nonprofit from having to sell at least one of its properties.
“Christmas for us was really slim, and so far this fiscal year we’re still down more than $50,000 in overall donations from last year,” said Maj. Sue Dorman, the Army’s senior officer in Northeast Mississippi.
The Army recently received permission from its divisional headquarters in Jackson to sell what employees call the “Douglas Street property,” the 15,000-square-foot recreation building located behind the Link Centre in Tupelo.
The Army purchased the building, which sits on 2.12 acres, from Harrisburg Baptist Church five years ago. The organization used it for recreation and after-school tutoring until budget cuts forced it to indefinitely suspend the program last fall.
Tupelo Parks and Recreation rented the building last month, and now, although the Army hasn’t officially placed the property on the market, the organization is talking with at least two potential local buyers.
The Army also is considering what to do with its thrift store in Booneville, which for months has been consistently been upside-down in expenses.
According to Dorman, the store, which employs one full-time person, needs to bring in about $5,000 a month to remain viable and it hasn’t done that in a while.
The Army relies on its four area thrift stores, in Amory, Tupelo, New Albany and Booneville, to pump $160,000 into its social services programs each year.