Thursday, November 19, 2009

Be thankful for what you've got, donate what you can

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 5:54 PM

Every year I'm amazed by our city's generosity during the holidays. We band together to make sure poor kids get toys from Santa, we donate through work, church and at the entrances of shopping malls. Also, every year, I wonder why we can't be this generous year 'round?

Here's my challenge to you: Every time you go to the grocery store, look through your pantry for non-perishable foods that your family isn't going to eat. Set them aside.

Every time you go to to the pharmacy or a box store for paper goods, buy an extra package of toilet paper, an extra tooth brush, an extra box of bottle of cleaner. Set those items aside.

Once a month, haul those "extras" to the food pantry nearest your home.

In this second, though, I urge you to give cash to Loaves and Fishes, Second Harvest, Food Pantry, the Urban Ministry Center ...

For the first winter in its 34-year-history, Charlotte's Loaves & Fishes pantry program is worried it may not be able to meet the needs of the community's hungry.

The network of 18 Mecklenburg County food pantries is seeing record numbers of clients due to the recession, and a survey released Wednesday showed over a third of the clients are first-time visitors.

As of Oct. 31, Loaves & Fishes has served 81,717 clients this year, compared with 57,420 during the same period two years ago.

"That's a 42 percent increase," said Executive Director Beverly Howard. "I'm not one to cry 'wolf,' but this is the most serious crisis Loaves & Fishes has ever faced."

Currently, over half the shelves are empty at the agency's warehouse off Old Pineville Road in south Charlotte. Several major food drives are now in progress, and Howard hopes they'll supply the agency's holiday needs. Late winter is when problems may arise, she says. None of the 18 pantries will close, but potential cuts could include limiting what families receive or doubling the time they must wait between visits.

Read more from The Charlotte Observer.

Homeless in the Queen City:

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