RALEIGH, N.C. — The economy is slumping, which is creating the predictable – and sad – fact that donations to charitable organizations are down at the same time that the need for the charities' help is going up a lot.
The organizations are nothing if not resourceful, however, and many Triangle service organization are finding ways to feed the hungry this year.
At the Interfaith Food Shuttle
kitchen in Raleigh, turkeys for Christmas meals were being wrapped as Christmas Eve approached.
"This year, we're actually seeing folks who are a new client, who never thought they might come to a pantry,” said David Reese, vice president of food distribution and recovery.
That is a situation repeated again and again around the Triangle as it becomes hard for more and more people to find a way to do anything special for Christmas.
"The need is up about 40 percent overall. We're seeing that in the communities we serve, the areas we serve," Reese explained.
The Interfaith Kitchen is on track to deliver about 6 million pounds of food this year.
"This is a family of four right here, and we'll add more to it," CPO Director Terry Foley said as she looked over a food package
"The numbers are just huge this year,” Foley said. The organization served nearly 170 people in one day this week.
"We're used to doing 100 max. It's really putting a strain on our resources. Even during the holidays, these numbers are just enormous for us," Foley said.
While CPO, part of the Raleigh Catholic diocese, has not seen donations drop this year, the annual growth it has come to expect has stopped. CPO has stretched its budget as far as it can go.
"We've been around for 31 years, and we've never turned people away due to lack of food. … We hope to not ever have to do that," Foley said.
One of the people who needs a hand this year is Betty Webster of Raleigh, who was at CPO on Tuesday.
"It's really hard right now. But with the good Lord’s help, we'll make it through," Webster said.
Spirit of giving evident across Triangle
Volunteers at the Raleigh Rescue Mission prepared, packed up and delivered more than 650 holiday dinners to the elderly, sick and low income families in need.
In Durham, seven-year-old Megan Brinkman raised more than$500 from friends and neighbors to help the homeless. She made her donation to the Durham Rescue Mission and helped give out presents there Wednesday.
"I've learned that Christmas isn't all about Santa Claus and these presents. It's about giving. It's about giving to others," she said.
Employees and customers Charlie's on Ninth Street in Durham served up holiday cheer for more than 40 children. For the fifth year, the restaurant hosted families referred by schools and churches for a Christmas meal, followed by a visit from Santa.