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As the Holidays Near, Food Banks Struggle With Growing Demands

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Those who feed the hungry in the Ozarks are already seeing huge numbers this year.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Those who feed the hungry in the Ozarks are already seeing huge numbers this year.

They are seeing even more demand due to other local food pantries closing their doors.

Now, during this critical time of charitable giving local charities will be competing for dollars with a natural disaster half a world away.

Thousands of people have turned to Crosslines this year for food help. 

Now Crosslines is in hot demand for Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets and their toy distribution. 

But, right now, demand is greater than the supply. That's where the community comes in. 

Each week hundreds of people get food help from Crosslines.

"I'm signing up for some food for the house,” says Cheryl Houle. "And medicine and stuff and clothes. It's hard some times."

Houle says she struggles to feed her family, ncluding her autistic 7-year-old son. 

"I get a disability check so I can't always afford to get food,” says Houle. “So I come to the pantry to provide for my son because I'm a single mom."

These shelves and this pantry provide nutritious food.

"We get cereal and canned goods and milk, which is good,” says Houle.

Houle had come to sign up for a Christmas basket and toys. She's a little too early, but she isn't alone.

The demand for Thanksgiving and Christmas is great this year. 

"By the end of this year, Crosslines will serve over 50,000 people and that's a record number for us,” says Tom Faulkner, the agency director of Crosslines. “With the holiday food baskets we expect 9-10,000 people that will be served through the holiday food. Baskets are another 33-35,000 children for the toy store. Some pretty, pretty strong numbers to go up against." 

Faulkner says many people losing jobs find work but not with equivalent income like one woman who was making $12 an hour at a hotel that closed.

"Now her husband, she and her son are all working at a fast food restaurant for minimum wage, they've had to move out of their home into a two bedroom apartment and they are struggling,” says Faulkner. “Those are the kinds of families we are seeing."

Others are struggling with insurance deductibles, medical bills and multiple families under one roof. 

 "There's kind of another perfect storm coming together here and at the same time we mix the holidays in,” says Faulkner.

Faulkner says these families need help and now so does Crosslines. 

Houle says when the community donates to Crosslines it helps save families.

 "It means a lot, because if it wasn't for the families that donate the food, my son would go hungry and I wouldn't want that,” says Houle.

Crosslines has already stopped taking applications for Thanksgiving baskets, but it still needs help putting food in those baskets. 

The organization is also still looking for volunteers to help hand out the baskets later this month.

Crosslines will take additional applications for Christmas baskets December 2-7.

You can donate or volunteer by calling Crosslines 865-5810.

Crosslines and other local charities may also be seeing some of the money they would normally get going overseas to the Philippines to help their efforts, which creates another concern. 

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