Now, some say the worry is heightened by not knowing what congress' action on the so-called "fiscal cliff" will mean for charitable donations.
"When we get low we have to give what we have," said Tina McFadden, Director of Social Services at the Salvation Army.
Salvation Army workers worry about the possibility of empty shelves in the future, especially if congress decides to change the tax break Americans receive for charitable donations.
"Just to keep our doors open that's the ramifications. Ultimately we've got 3,000 children we are trying to provide gifts for, without those donors helping us, that's impossible," said Major Alan Hill.
The local Salvation Army services thousands every year.
But on the other side of the fiscal cliff is a not-so-concerned nonprofit called Our House in Little Rock, a place that services more than a thousand homeless families per year.
"There have been several of these crises, and we just haven't had the luxury of sitting back and waiting for Washington to do something because we have had an urgent need in our community that we have had to meet," said Ben Goodwin, Assistant Director at Our House.
Meeting needs is what these organizations do, only now, some will have to wait on congress to know exactly how they can move forward.
"It's kind of a wait and see game," said McFadden.
Dec. 4 and 5, hundreds of nonprofit leaders are going to Capitol Hill for Protect Giving - D-C days, to try and encourage congress to leave the charitable deduction untouched.