OLD TOWN – A lack of funds and an increase in need have Crossroads Ministries relying on community support to be able to hold this year’s Christmas party.
The local food pantry and assistance center already has people asking for holiday assistance, Director Brenda Davis said Friday.
An increase in families seeking help has put the nonprofit agency $2,000 short for the remainder of October.
“Since the first of July, we have had an increase of 109 families,” Davis said. That equals 279 people.
“We have several families that have come in that have six in it,” she said.
Families are eligible to receive food at Crossroads once a week, and the center also helps with heat, electricity and transportation costs to and from work if needed.
“People come in, they’re hurting,” she said. “If I’ve got some money, I give it to them.”
The recent increase is more than the organization usually sees this time of year, Davis said.
“Their needs seem to be greater,” she said.
In the first four months of this quarter, Davis said, she has depleted her entire annual budget for clients seeking help to pay for heat, electricity, and gasoline to get back and forth to work.
“We had budgeted $6,000, and I have used $9,000,” she said.
When checking numbers Friday, Davis said she was surprised at the amount of food and money the organization has gone through.
“It’s really strange because I just kind of go along on simple Christian faith and take care of every day what I can when people come in,” she said.
Crossroads also is going through food faster, as well. The pantry has run out of laundry and dish detergent, most larger-sized baby diapers, and personal hygiene items such as shampoo.
A recent food drive by the University of Maine’s Phi Gamma Delta fraternity was able to bring in 5,000 pounds of food, which Davis said will help.
The reason for the increase in people seeking assistance appears to have been caused by several factors, including the March 16 closure of the Georgia-Pacific Corp. mill that put 450 people out of work.
“I’m firmly convinced it’s the ripple effect,” Davis said, adding that there have been other layoffs in the area, such as those at Corinth Wood Products.
“It usually gets slim this time of year, but this year it has been really rough,” she said.
Crossroads Ministries can be reached at 827-1298 or at PO Box 498, Old Town, ME 04468.