"In 31 Christmases with the Salvation Army, this is the first Christmas where two months before Christmas I'm anticipating the need to tell people 'No. I'm sorry, we can't serve you,'" said Major Clayton Gardner, a Salvation Army Corps Officer.
The Salvation Army is handing out 40 percent more food than they did last year at this time. Two hundred and fifty families have already signed up for Christmas dinners that may not materialize -- after all, prices are up, donations have dwindled and hopes are dimming. The Salvation Army says fewer stores owned by companies are allowing them to set up their collection kettles outside.
"Last year, we had 180 of our families adopted by organizations. This year so far only 93 of our families have been adopted. It's a little bit scary as we head into Christmas," said Gardner.
It's the same refrain at other food pantries all across the Bay Area. Each week, 70 new families seek assistance at the Monument Crisis Center.
"We're seeing a lot of families that were foreclosed on or in rental properties that are now foreclosed on," said Sandra Scherer, the Monument Crisis Center executive director. "Unemployment has run out, there is no new job on the horizon, they can't afford school, and medical, and housing."
There is food to be had, for now, but the number of needy is swelling like never before.
A one pantry they won't even be able to give out Thanksgiving dinner this year like in years past. There are too many people and not enough food. So they'll have a raffle and only a lucky few will walk away with a Turkey.
That's right, there will be a raffle for food on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. They will draw names until the food runs out. Some will have to leave empty handed.
"From school groups and scout troops and businesses and corporations, we need to have the community come together and make a difference for those who can't help themselves right now," said Scherer.