East Lincoln Christian Ministries (ELCM) volunteer Sue Murdock has seen familiesâ€™ need for help grow in the area.
Sheâ€™s one of several volunteers who recently helped prepare food bags and more than 800 gifts for families in need.
â€œHere at Christmastime, people can get food and three gifts for each family member,â€ said Murdock.
In order to participate and be eligible, families filled out holiday program forms. Eligibility included those with either a disability and or either 16 and younger or 65 and older.
According to ELCM crisis ministries coordinator Joanne Tallent, the holiday program served nearly 188 families in 2004, an increase from about 60 families from 2003.
â€œWe handed out 887 Christmas tree angels to area churches, high schools, businesses and the Denver/Lake Norman Rotary Club,â€ said Murdock. â€œA lot of why weâ€™re serving more people is due to the bad economy, people being laid off and business closing.â€
Not only has the holiday program seen an increase in families served over the last two years, the ministry has as well.
Tallent said that in October and November alone, ELCM had more than 400 requests.
â€œThey ranged from food and clothes to assistance with paying power bills, medical bills and heating assistance,â€ Tallent said.
So far, during the month of December the ministry has served 45 people.
â€œAssistance for power bills is the most pressing needs for families right now,â€ said Tallent.
According to ministry director Al Lovin, ELCM serves about 1,400 clients throughout the year.
â€œPeople did a lot of giving to the hurricane victims earlier this year,â€ he said. â€œI just donâ€™t want people to forget us. Our need is great and our love is strong.â€
Today, tomorrow and Saturday, the families that registered can come in to ELCM to pick up their food and angel gifts.
East Lincoln Christian Ministries is located off Campground Road in Denver.Ministry hours are 9 a.m. – noon. Tuesday through Thursday; and 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday.From Lincolnton, take N.C. 150 to N.C. 16. Turn left on Campground Road. Veer off to the right at Pine Ridge Drive and the ministry office is on the right.For more information, call (704) 483-4415.
by Jon Mayhew