“Basically the demands for the services of The Salvation Army have increased significantly over the past few months, specifically,” said Salvation Army Lt. Michelle Wilson.” We’ve been seeing this trend for a good while now but especially during the summer months, which kind of in the past have been slower months for people needing assistance. But during the summer months, we served so many of our residents with food, utility assistance, toiletries, prescription assistance as well as ongoing counseling and case management needs.
“... What we’re finding is that this need that exists among our friends and neighbors here in the community is ... rising in record numbers amongst families who are turning to The Salvation Army for the first time ever for assistance. So it’s not folks who have a trend or a history of being assisted but people who are having a first time need ever in their lifetime to have to reach out to a community agency for assistance. These families, they represent people who work full time and have faced, some of them, catastrophic events like illness or an unexpected reduction in their working hours because of the hard times in the economy with the businesses having to cut back.”
During the month of July, The Salvation Army provided $10,264 of resources to 299 cases, compared to $6,500 of services for July 2011. For August, the nonprofit provided services worth a total of $6,169, which was nearly double that of August a year ago.
“The challenge is just trying to work and help as many people as we can and that’s one of the great things about all of our [local] agencies is that we collaborate together and try to do the most that we can with the limited resources that each of us have,” Wilson said. “But the need is always going to be greater than any of the agencies in town and that’s why we have to work together to meet the need. But we all are working with a limited amount of resources for what seems to be a growing need here in the community.
“We’ve seen a lot of increase in the financial resources but also in our food pantry as well.The food stamp program has gone through some recent changes. They changed the [distribution] date, so it’s really just a short-term impact but we’ve seen an increased need because of it.”
Since The Salvation Army will have to wait until November to be the benefactors of some scheduled community food drives, Wilson is encouraging organizations, businesses and individuals to donate food to help stock the shelves through the end of October.
“There’s a bigger need for food at this time,” said Alice Loy, volunteer with the local Salvation Army. “Not only do they need the staples that we give like [canned] green beans and corn — things that they can make a meal with — but we’re also seeing a great need right now for baby diapers, deodorant, soaps.
“We try to make sure that when we pack the food baskets that we give them something they will be able to make four or five meals out of. ... I would say [the pantry is] maybe a fourth [full] and I would say if you look at this, because of what we have, we might be good for another 20 families maybe. Otherwise there’s not a lot of variety to be able to give them.”
For more information about The Salvation Army’s needs and services, call 770-387-9955. Nonperishable food, such as canned vegetables and soups, cereal and pancake mix — can be delivered to the nonprofit’s food pantry — 16 Felton Place — Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.