YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – With Christmas a couple of weeks away, more people are in need of help this year because of COVID-19.
Mike Iberis, executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank, said the 160 pantries they service have seen a 40% increase in the number of people coming for emergency food since the pandemic started.
“We just came out of the Thanksgiving season and our pantries have told us the same thing. The number of people coming is unprecedented, it doesn’t seem to be slowing up at all, but it seems to be kind of eclipsing, so we’re fortunate about that,” he said.
Generous donations have helped them meet the increased demand.
“We’ve distributed 40% more food so far this year than we did last year at this time, which is over three million pounds of food that have been put into the Mahoning Valley,” Iberis said.
It’s a similar situation at the Salvation Army in Youngstown. Area coordinator Major Paul Moore says they’re doing the best they can but the demand is high.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of help. We can only allow so many people in the building at a time so the volunteers and staff are cut down because of COVID. So we have a limited number of people trying to do a lot of work, so we’re doing the best we can,” he said.
With their annual toy drive approaching, Moore says the demand for toys needed for families went up 40% this year, which caused them to make a few adjustments.
“We even cut back on the age of children we’re doing toys for. We used to do up to age 15. This year, we’re doing up to age 12. We have over 300 more children than we ever had,” Major Moore said.
Both groups know many people are hurting financially. They’re asking anyone who can donate to help their neighbors in need.
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