PHOENIX, ARIZ.– – 圣诞节 is Friday and for many, it’s a time of celebration – but for those less fortunate, it can be another day of worry. Typically food banks are there to save the day but this year because of 新冠肺炎 their demand is higher than ever.
Several organizations nationwide say their demand has more than doubled this year, and it’s taking a toll on families.
“We are providing more food than ever before,” said Tyson Nansel, vice president of external affairs for United Food Bank in Mesa, 阿里兹.
The food bank says their most needed items are peanut butter, canned meats, canned veggies and fruit. For every $ 1 donation, they can provide five nutritious meals.
“Pre-pandemic we were delivering 61,000 meals daily and this time it’s different, we’re delivering 75,000 meals daily. Our distributions on Fridays have grown significantly,” Nansel said.
On top of their weekly food distributions, 的 United Food Bank hands out hundreds of Christmas food boxes to families in need. 然而, 今年, the need for boxes grew into the thousands as a result of the pandemic.
“Around this time of year, we were serving nearly 600 families but this past Friday for our Christmas distribution we reached more than 2,500 家庭. That equals more than 10,000 individuals just here in Arizona needing help,” said Nansel.
“Not only just to have a holiday meal, but to get a family of four enough food for more than a week. It was a honey baked ham, it was a bag of produce that had potatoes, apples, oranges, we had dairy products such as milk and cheese, as well as yogurt so a lot of good nutritious items just to help a family out,” Nansel said.
Over at The Salvation Army, Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder says nationwide they’re also busier than ever.
“It would be no exaggeration to say that we’ve seen a tsunami of human need… the Salvation Army at Christmas normally serves about 2.6 百万, this year we’re looking at well over 6 百万人,” Hodder said.
They’re handing out toys and gearing up for their annual Christmas dinner, which will be socially distanced this year with meals to go. Check out their 网站 for locations.
“This Christmas we’ve seen a need in three specific areas, first in terms of food, the number of people coming to us for food has skyrocketed. 事实上, we expect about 155% more people will have come to the Salvation Army this year for assistance than ever before. 第二, we’re seeing lots of demand for rent and utilities assistance. And third, 当然, because it’s Christmas it’s the children and their toys. We don’t want any parent to face the decision about whether or not to pay their light bill or provide a toy under the tree for their child,” Hodder said.
With just hours to go until Christmas, they’re still trying to get volunteers to meet the new demand.
“Even at this last minute, The Salvation Army is looking for help to meet these needs,” Hodder added.
To help meet those needs during a pandemic, The Salvation Army is getting creative in the way they raise donations.
“We’re also still accepting Christmas donations, via Alexa, say ‘Alexa, make a donation to the Salvation Army.’ We’re also inviting people to text donations by texting the word ‘kettle’ to 91999 and of course, if they see a kettle before Christmas Day, they’ll be able to donate electronically just by bumping the sign or scanning the QR code, and all of that help will go to help people in their community right now,” according to Hodder.
Across town, 圣. Vincent De Paul in Phoenix gave away more than 2,000 toys to families in need this year, and Friday, they’ll be handing out thousands of meals on Christmas Day.
“We are the largest St. Vincent De Paul in the world… we are able to be this big because of the amazing support of volunteers and donors and the whole community all of our partners that see the need and work with us to help fulfill,” said Jessica Berg, chief program officer with 圣. Vincent De Paul.
They’ve also made several adaptations this year to stay on top of the pandemic.
“We’ve created a ‘Help from Home’ 程序, so it’s an amazing opportunity to help us with making masks or putting hygiene packs together, or writing cards and letters to frontline workers and to our residents here at our transitional shelter,” said Berg.
Volunteers can not only help out in person but online, 太, and so far they have about 8,000 hours of virtual remote volunteer service already completed.
“People need help 365 days a year and we are here to help. So it’s not just Christmas Eve, it’s not just Christmas or Thanksgiving but throughout the year we really welcome the community to be part of this,”
All these organizations say they need support year-round. You can still volunteer, donate money and drop off food and toys. Check with your local organization for more information.