Some nonprofits pleasantly surprised by donations in tough economy

Nonprofit groups that serve needy people in the Sacramento area got an unexpected dose of good cheer this holiday season.

Braced for lean times in a woeful economy, many are reporting holiday campaigns that matched or even exceeded donations of previous years.

"Maybe the hard times bring out the best in people," said Alice Gentry, community affairs manager for River Oak Center for Children, which provides mental health and social services to youngsters from birth through age 18.

"Sacramento is a very giving community. People who have jobs and are doing OK seem to be saying, 'Let me share.' "

The agency has raised about $15,000 in December alone to help its 800 clients with everything from paying utility bills to blankets and clothing, she said. "It's still coming in. We're getting gifts of $10 all the way up to $1,000."

Given reports of layoffs, foreclosures and business failures nationwide, River Oak and other organizations had low expectations for their winter fund drives.

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