Aviation Layoffs Impact Holiday Community Programs

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The Wichita, Kan., area has seen a dramatic change in the role of one of its leading industries: aerospace. This in turn is directly affecting several charities' holiday programs in town. Hard hit by aviation layoffs in Wichita, United Way of the Plains is trimming $1 million from its budget, normally used to help 34 service agencies in the local area The charity typically expects to raise half its cash from aircraft manufacturers and their generous employees. While disappointing, these new losses will not affect programs that provide for basic needs such as food, shelter, and medical care. United Way President Patrick Hanrahan said the agency raised $15 million this year, but that's nearly half a million dollars short of the goal. In the past, the organization has filled out its budget by using emergency reserves, but the reserves are down by 25 percent since 1999.