Charities worried about future donations

December 25, 2008 9:23:34 PM PST
As the recession deepened this year, the demand on local charities has gone through the roof. And for the most part, people have stepped up the past few weeks to help the needy.

But charities are worried that the end of the holiday season may also mean an end to much of the generosity.

Christmas Day meals at Emergency Housing Consortium Life Builders in San Jose are always big but this year, it's epic.

Head chef Paul Charleston fed 250 people last Christmas.

"Today I will serve 380 people for lunch," said Charleston.

The shelter relies on the second harvest food bank and drop off donations to help fill their pantry and feed their clients three meals a day, seven days a week. But donations have been down, recently forcing Paul to get creative with his cooking.

"Paul is a genius. He'll take what's little. It's like he'll take the two fish and five loaves of bread," said Eshawn Harrell from EHC Lifebuilders.

Harrell and his friend Brooke Clark live at the shelter. They've seen more people coming into EHC Life Builders looking for help.

"For people having evictions, for people losing their houses from end to right, doing everything they can to save their home and to save their family," said Brooke Clark from Life Builders.

At Saint Patrick's church in San Jose, the Loaves and Fishes Family Kitchen served meals to more than 225 people.

"Mostly we're seeing families and seniors on fixed incomes and it makes it difficult for them to survive," said Christina Egan from Loaves and Fishes Family Kitchen.

Loaves and Fishes is being forced out of its current location on June 1st, something that could end the 29- year-old charity and the help it provides to hundreds of people.

At Loaves and Fishes Kitchen in San Jose, donations are down 23 percent this year, but organizers say although people are giving less money they are giving more of their time.

Workers at Applied Materials of Santa Clara did both this year -- paying for and sorting $200,000 pounds of food for the Second Harvest Food Bank in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

But many times the goodwill of the holidays ends after Christmas, and donations dry up. That is a real concern for places like Loaves and Fishes Family Kitchen and EHC Life Builders, especially with so many job losses in the Bay Area.

"We wish that people would you know, find it in their hearts to understand instead of always trying to be understood and like I say it's not a complaint, it's always a blessing. Whatever you give can save someone's life," said Harrell.

For many it's a Christmas to remember -- for all the wrong reasons.


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