07/04/10 — Charitable groups see increased need, now

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Charitable groups see increased need, now

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on July 4, 2010 1:50 AM

The arrival of summer and the faltering economy are bringing more people to local charities for help with food and utility bills, volunteers say.

Susan Britt, team leader at the Community Soup Kitchen of Goldsboro, said the organization needs all the help it can get to meet the need.

With schools letting children out for summer and more and more people either laid off or simply unable to find work, Ms. Britt said the soup kitchen has been keeping a lot busier than usual lately, serving meals for up to 130 adults and children a day.

"(Need) has gone up extremely high," she said. "We're seeing a lot of new faces."

Ms. Britt said she mainly blames the poor economy and the unemployment rate, but she also cited the unemployment benefits extension bill that recently failed in the Senate as a problem.

The bill would have allowed for an extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed. Without that money, Ms. Britt said unemployed residents whose benefits are expiring will come to rely more heavily on the soup kitchen for meals.

And meals are not the only area where local residents are seeking help.

Maj. Andrew Wiley of the Salvation Army, while explaining why the summer months are critical for those in need, said he has seen a definite increase in people requesting utility assistance as the need for air conditioning increases with the rising heat index.

He added that the Salvation Army, like the Soup Kitchen, sees a constant increase in the number of families in need of food assistance over the summer as parents can no longer rely on schools to feed their children meals during the day.

Ms. Britt and Wiley both said their organizations are not receiving as many donations or as much volunteer work during the summer months as they do during Christmas and other winter months, despite the increased need.

"Everybody's going on vacation," Ms. Britt explained.

"I don't think it's an intentional thing," Wiley added, explaining that as families go out to enjoy the weather and time off, charitable giving is not on their minds. "People forget need doesn't go away because the weather's nice."

The Salvation Army does not have any specific summer programs, Wiley said, but volunteers are working hard to meet increased need for food, utilities and rental assistance.

The Soup Kitchen, meanwhile, has been asking for more donations and volunteers across Goldsboro. Aside from donations of vegetables and other food, the organization also needs money to keep the kitchen running.

"We're not exempt from the light bill either," she said. "Our bills have gone up, too."

The kitchen does receive some previously prepared food from churches and vacation Bible schools, Ms. Britt explained, but as its number of visitors continues to climb, the kitchen is appealing to the public's generosity to help feed Goldsboro's hungry this summer.

Food, paper and monetary donations may be delivered to the Goldsboro Community Soup Kitchen Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 112 West Oak Street, or monetary donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 1064, Goldsboro, N.C., 27533.

Those wishing to volunteer at the soup kitchen must fill out a form on the kitchen's website at www.communitysoupkitchen.org/contact_us.

For more information about donating to the local Salvation Army branch, call (919) 735-4811 to reach the administration/social services office.