An increase in need and decrease in giving this holiday season - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

An increase in need and decrease in giving this holiday season


"It feels like I'm doing something to help. Maybe I can't do it financially, but I can give my time," says Millie Shaw, Salvation Army Bell Ringer.

It doesn't matter what you're giving, non-profit organizers say every bit is needed. Especially this year.

"It's a tougher year. The need hasn't decreased, we may see less here, but with all the other agencies we're seeing numbers as high or higher than years past," says Major Steven Woodard, with Elkhart Salvation Army.

He says donations and volunteers are harder to find. Even the popular Adopt-A-Family program had 20 less sponsors this year. This is a trend that many Michiana programs found to be true. In Niles, Goshen, and South Bend, less families were adopted this year because no one would sponsor them.

"It creates a challenge because people still count on Salvation Army to be here." Woodard says they will never turn someone away, but the resources are stretched. And it's a challenge for the South Bend Food Bank too.

"We have to work harder when donations aren't coming in because we have to go out and we have to find people who are willing to give to us," says Mari Jo Martinec, director of community improvement.

She says food is a growing need. "The number of people who use the services has gone up."

Both say it's up to us to help our neighbors, because who knows when the tables will turn.

"For some people who may have been donors to the Food Pantry or soup kitchen, they may have run into some challenging times and now they may need the help that those agencies provide," says Martinec.

"They were adopters in years past and now they're coming in and I don't know of anyone who wants to wake up in the morning and say 'I want to go ask for help.' It's really humbling," says Woodard.

And it's not just over the holidays that there's a need.

"Don't forget about us in May, June, July, August because that's when we need the food as well. Hunger is a 365 day a year problem," says Martinec.

And even though the deadline to adopt a family is closed, the Salvation Army says they also take donations and volunteers year-round.

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