DOWNTOWN — For the 400 needy families that signed up for assistance with the Salvation Army’s Santa Monica Corps this holiday season, Christmas could bring some disappointment.

With less than two weeks to go before the charity’s Dec. 20 deadline to collect donations, Capt. Mario Ruiz said gifts of food and toys are significantly down compared with prior years. The corps needs 1,500 toys to provide for the families on its list, he said, but so far has received fewer than 200. It has stockpiled enough food to provide holiday meals for only about a quarter of its families.

“We have about 400 families that we need to give food to and for some reason this year we haven’t been getting the donations that we used to before,” Ruiz said. “We might have food for 100 families, so we’re in real need.”

Only a handful of companies, he said, so far have picked up “angel tags,” which list a child’s name, age and interests and are intended to guide donors as they shop. More than 1,000 of the tags remain in the charity’s local headquarters.

There’s no mystery why donations have fallen off, Ruiz said. With the poor economy, fewer people have giving on their minds.

“I know everyone is hurting, so that’s why it’s affecting us as well,” he said.

The Santa Monica Corps mostly serves families living in Santa Monica and Venice, Ruiz said, though its service area also includes Malibu and Pacific Palisades.

In recent days, the Salvation Army, which is a member of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, has been cold calling companies on the chamber’s directory in an attempt to sign up more donors.

While there have been some takers, it’s been slow going.

“We’re going to try to see what we can get together and see what we can do,” Ruiz said. “Most likely, we will have to disappoint some of the families.”

Donations are still being accepted at the Salvation Army’s Santa Monica Corps location, at 1533 Fourth St.

nickt@www.smdp.com

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