High gas prices hit charities hard

A gas price display is changed at a Chevron gasoline to display a record high.


Kai Ryssdal: Oil lost 4 bucks today, down to $134 or so a barrel. Part of that could have been the Saudi oil minister. He suggested a high level get-together between producers and consumers to talk about those rising prices.

Gas went the other way to an all-time high average nationwide of $4.04 a gallon. That's 10 percent -- about 40 cents -- higher than it was just one month ago.

The spike in prices is hurting corporate profits and fueling job layoffs and Marketplace's Sarah Gardner reports it's also making a big dent in volunteerism around the country.

Sarah Gardner: Enid Borden is worried -- very worried. She's president of the Meals on Wheels Association of America.

Enid Borden: We are in a crisis situation now.

Volunteers for Meals and Wheels drive their own cars to deliver over a million meals a day to homebound seniors. These days, the meals and the wheels are more expensive.

A recent survey showed at least 58 percent of the charity's local programs have lost volunteers due to high gas prices. Borden says many of those were seniors on fixed incomes themselves.

Borden: And so they realize that they have to make a decision for their own lives: "Do I eat or do I go and volunteer and use that precious gasoline?"

Borden says volunteer shortages have meant also cutting some delivery routes. She blamed two senior deaths on those cuts.

Dennis Brady, a Meals on Wheels board member in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, says his local program is struggling to help its volunteer drivers.

Dennis Brady: We've tried to compensate them a little bit with gift cards for gasoline. We had a little bit of extra money left in our budget and we felt that this was a good use for it.

$4 gas is hurting other non profits too. Stephanie Spradling at Cox Health Hospitals in Springfield, Missouri says they've lost three volunteers recently.

Stephanie Spradling: This was a hard decision for the volunteers to make because they don't work for a paycheck, they work for the satisfaction of helping others.

The IRS does allow volunteers to deduct mileage on their tax returns, but that rate hasn't budged in years. The charity mileage rate is still 14 cents a mile. That compares to a business rate of about 50 cents.

I'm Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk covering sustainability news spots and features.
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Come on American People.

Stand proud and help stop the gas prices going up. Stop buying the Expensive stuff and go down the block to get the cheaper seller. Stop buying EXON. The CEO already stated he is not out for the small guy!

The prices are high and will destroy our country if they continue to go higher. Gas prices will cause companies to close their doors. Makers of Boats, Campers, Jet Ski's, Snow mobiles, CAR/Trucks, Trailers and then food from farmers. Does this matter to you? It should, people become unemployed and they lose their house then the house market suffers and it then impacts you! It is a cruel and serious circle that is happening right now to each and every one of us!

All that will be left will be corporate giants like K-Mart, Wal-mart, BJ's and of course Sam’s. We will be at their call and what we pay them!

Mom and Pops are disappearing if not already gone. States and counties are dying. Poor are even poorer!

Also stop buying gas efficient cars they are B.S. The investors want you to buy these. They want money in adventure that is failing. Al Gore is a leader in this area. He has money to lose if we do not buy what he is selling!

Stop and think, do not get caught in the moment and lose sight of who we are!

Take a stand and stop letting the rich control the poor through money!

Watch what you spend and spend on it when it is cheap. Save more and spend less. Place a money crunch on them and not support them any more. Buy what you need and no more than that!

We need to make them suffer and take control of the ball and not let them run us!

Be Smart Americans and spend wisely!

Yours truly Give Me a Break!!!!

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