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 Tough Economic Climate Creating More Need in Area

November 19, 2008 - Several organizations are asking the community to step up and donate food items for the increasing number of less fortunate families in the community. Rising unemployment and difficult economic times are creating additional hardships for many families throughout the area.

The number of families in need has grown considerably over the past year alone, and local organizations are asking those who can give to do so in response to the growing demand. There are multiple organizations in Knightstown contributing to the effort, and they all reported Tuesday afternoon that donations are still needed. While some reported satisfactory levels of donated food, others reported shortages are at a near critical stage.

Helen Gorman reported that food donations to the Civic Cheer Guild of Knightstown are fair, at best. “It is a very big concern because this year the needs will be very high,” Gorman said. The Cheer Guild was established years ago in an effort to provide Christmas baskets for families who need help throughout the Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation district. Additionally, the Cheer Guild spearheads the Knightstown Home Optimist Club’s toy drive. They accept donations of food, toys and cash. Drop-off locations include Mainsource Bank, H&R Block, Dr. Neil Shaneyfelt’s office, the Hoosier Gym and The Banner.

Basic needs include non-perishable canned or boxed foods, as well as new, unwrapped toys for ages infant-through high school seniors. Cash donations will be used to purchase perishable foods and other necessities. The Knightstown-Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department Relief Fund is also planning to assist families in need during the holidays by conducting a food and toy drive as well. KVFD spokesperson Steve Wilkerson said Tuesday that donations have been slow in coming. “Our number one concern is that the people in our community who need some help receive that help,” Wilkerson said. “We are basically in need of everything because donations have been very slow.”

Drop-off points for the KVFD Relief Fund include the fire station, town hall and Dollar General Store east of town. The Knightstown Food Pantry has what could be considered a “decent supply” of foodstuffs, but with an expected increase in demand in the coming weeks, the outlook is not as positive as it has been in recent years. The Food Pantry offered suggestions for those who wish to donate items and assist their ore unfortunate neighbors. These items can apply to the needs of the other organizations that are also conducting food drives. The Food Pantry suggests that focus be maintained on items such as canned meats (hams, chicken and dumplings, beef stew, tuna, etc.), breakfast cereals (Rice Krispies, Oatmeal), cake mixes, flour, sugar, canned fruit, Hamburger Helper, boxed meals, toiletry and personal hygiene-related items and other non-perishable goods.

As the other organizations are doing, the Food Pantry will use cash donations to purchase perishable goods such as turkeys and hams. The Food Pantry is located inside the Knightstown United Methodist Church. The Bethel Presbyterian Parish Thrift Store has received an overwhelming response from the community and is no longer in need of various items of clothing area residents have been donating. That organization has now turned its efforts to help out other groups who are conducting food drives to help those who have fallen on hard times. “People have been so generous in donating clothing – really nice clothing – that we are in excellent shape now,” said Glen Orr of the Parish Thrift Store. “We are not accepting any more donations of clothing. Now we are turning out attention toward helping out the Cheer Guild and others because the biggest needs now appear to be food.”

Despite low levels of product on the shelves at some organizations’ food drives, local volunteers are optimistic the community will respond to the needs. “It is probably too early to tell if we’ll bring in enough to meet the demand,” Gorman said. “With the economy the way it is right now, I would suspect that the needs of this community will be much higher this year than in the past.”


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