Restoration Urban Ministries Williams

The Rev. Ervin Williams, executive director of Restoration Urban Ministries, holds up bags of food set to be distributed in February 2017 in the charity's food pantry.

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CHAMPAIGN — As holiday shopping season got underway this week, a local Christian charity said it’s struggling financially to help fill more basic human needs — for food and shelter.

Donations to Champaign’s Restoration Urban Ministries have failed to keep the organization afloat this year, according to the Rev. Ervin Williams, its executive director.

The need is serious, he said. But he’s hopeful.

“We’ll get through this with the help of our community, as we have before,” Williams said.

The organization needs to raise about $300,000 to catch up with its expenses for the year, according to Williams.

Restoration Urban Ministries budgets about $650,000 a year for housing, food and clothing to people who desperately need that help. It also fills other needs with church services, a substance-abuse recovery group and self-sufficiency education.

The charity is about $271,000 behind in its operational budget for the year, and on top of that, repairs are needed for on its two buildings — including floors and ceilings, Williams said.

“We have about six heating units that are down right now, so we can’t put anyone in those rooms,” he said.

Williams, who refers to himself as Brother Ervin, said cuts have already been made — among them the amount of food the charity buys each month for its pantry and its staff, which has been reduced from 30 to about 18.

“We’re hurting now for our staff,” he said.

Williams said he thinks the local community is still giving at about the same level it has in the past, but new charities have been added in recent years and the money given is being spread more thinly.

“We’ve got needs in our communities, everything from food to where they’re going to spend the night at,” he said. “We’ve always been concerned with that; even when the funds are tight, we’re concerned with where people are going to spend those days.”

Restoration Urban Ministries provides housing for about 90 people, and that includes families, Williams said. One advantage for those families staying there is they can be in a room together, he said.

“A family can go in at the end of the day and close the door to the rest of the world and feel some level of privacy,” Williams said.

To those who have been blessed with resources, he asks, please consider making a one-time gift or monthly support in any amount.

A GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $350,000 has been established, and donations can also be mailed to 1213 Parkland Court, Champaign, IL 61821.