Salvation Army's familiar red kettles appeared in front of various stores Friday, a day after Thanksgiving.
However, because the holiday is a week later this year, the number of days the charity will be able to collect money for the needy residents will be shorter.
John Gearhart, 58, right, of Niles, has been ringing bells for the Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign for about 12 years. On Friday, he was stationed outside the Eastwood Mall, Niles, where Al DeVenzencie, left, of Warren, stopped to donate a few dollars on Black Friday afternoon.
Tribune Chronicle / Margaret Thompson
"We're asking people to be particularly generous this year," Capt. Michael Morales, a corps commander at the Salvation Army Northwest Ohio Division, Warren, said. "We've already seen a decrease in the amount collected this year."
Morales and his wife, Dianna, became co-commanders of Warren's Salvation Army in June.
"We've found the need is much greater here than our last post in Norwalk," Moraleses said. "We received requests for 1,500 toys from 750 families."
The Morales are finding the number of single people needing food help has decreased, but the number of families seeking food has increased.
Other charity organizations are finding the need for food and other supplies have increased this year.
Warren Family Mission served more than 3,000 meals during its annual Thanksgiving Community Meal. It will serve a similar amount on Dec. 23, during its annual Christmas holiday meal at the Warren Family Mission, 31 Elm Road.
"We provide meals not only for people who come to our Elm Road location, but we also take meals for elderly shut-ins at the Buckeye, Tod, Waterstone, Elms and Plaza View apartments," Michelle Beauchene, a coordinator with the Warren Family Mission. "This year, on both holidays, we are providing enough food for people to take home for a second meal the next day."
Warren Family Mission will have a toy giveaway on Dec. 21.
"We are getting an outpouring of support," Beauchene said. "This is a wonderful community that has answered our prayers time and time again. We really feel like we are simply a bridge between those needing help and those who are willing to provide the help needed.
"The need for help has increased, but we've also seen an increase in the willingness of people to do what they can to help," she said.
Beauchene emphasized that people need help all year long. It is in the summer that food pantries get very, very depleted.
"There have been times that we worry about having to close the doors to the pantries," Beauchene said.
Members of North-Mar Church's Christian Service Brigade Battalion 1180 last week completed a food drive and delivered food to the mission for the holidays.
The Christian Service Brigade is a Boy Scouts-like organization for sixth- to 12th-grade boys at North-Mar Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Warren.
"They boys approached area businesses and went door-to-door to collect food items," Jim Martin, a lieutenant with the battalion, said. The teens collected several hundred pounds of food, according to Martin.
Michael Iberis, executive director of the Second Harvest Foodbank of the Mahoning Valley, said the organization provides food to 153 food pantries and feeding sites in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
Last year, the organization provided nine million pounds of food, including 2.5 million pounds of fruits and vegetables, to qualified foodbanks and pantries throughout the three-county region.
"We provide 40,000 pounds of food per day," Iberis said. "There are 15,000 people per week going to area pantries and kitchens and the amount of people seeking assistance has been growing every year over the past decade.
"We've been providing more food annually because there has been more joblessness in Ohio," Iberis described.
According to a Jobs and Family Services website, Ohio's October not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 7.0 percent, which was the same as the U.S. seasonally adjusted rate of 7.0 percent. Trumbull and Columbiana counties each had an October unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, while Mahoning County's October rate was 7.9 percent.
An estimated 2.4 million Ohioans went to charity organizations that provide food assistance from July 1 through Sept. 30.
"That broke an all-time record," Lisa Hamler-Furgitt, the executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said. "It was a 21 percent increase in the use of these agencies over the previous six months."
Hamler-Furgitt says a recent survey estimates more than 3.9 million Ohioans now are living with incomes that are 200 percent below the federal poverty level. That is an increase of 538,573 Ohioans over the previous three-year estimate.
The expectation is the need for food help will grow in the next year because starting Jan. 1, the state is cutting off food stamp benefits for unemployed childless adults. That will affect 1.8 million Ohioans.
Donna Kittle, director of Cortland Area Cares, 115 Pearl St., a pantry that distributes food once a month to residents in the Lakeview School District, said the organization has given monthly packages to more than 300 families in November.
"That is a lot," Kittle said. "We typically provide monthly packages for between 230 to 240 families. Because we are open only once a month, we provide about 10 bags of food to keep them going the entire 30 days."
"It is hard to see so many families needing help," Kittle said.
Cortland Area Cares is an eligible recipient of food from the Second Harvest Foodbank.
"We are well supported by the community," Kittle said. "We get donations from area men's groups, the Optimist Club, the police and fire departments and students attending Lakeview Schools."
Area churches, such as Grace AME, 1137 Main Ave. N.W., Warren, often provide for their parishioners and others in need throughout the year. For at least seven years, Grace AME's Louise Currie Missionary Society has provided New Year's Day meals, haircuts and other gifts for those in need.
"There always have been a pretty good showing," the Rev. Georgina Thornton said. "We will have the dinner from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 1. Everyone is invited. There is no income requirement.
"We are just trying to fill a little bit of the hole," she said. "If every church does just a little bit, we can make an impact."
Douglas Herlinger, who has been with the Church Mouse Thrift Shop, 26 1/2 West Broad St., Newton Falls, since its inception 28 years ago, says the organization attempts to help residents going through difficult times.
"There are all kinds of needs out there," Herlinger said. "There are needs for food, utility services, prescription help. We try to get them connected with the right sources to address their needs."
Herlinger said requests for food assistance has stabilized after several years of growth.
"We have more families coming in for help," Herlinger said. "We do a Christmas toy program and we already have 155 children requests for toys."