MARTHA K. SEAGLE
Susan Brymer, executive director for Christian Ministries of Lincoln County, hopes the public will remember the less fortunate this holiday season. The Lincolnton nonprofit organization recently kicked off its annual Christmas Fund campaign, and support is needed now more than ever before, according to Brymer.
â€œLast year, we gave food boxes to 721 families on Christmas Day and we provided toys for 1,018 children,â€ Brymer said.
The annual Christmas Fund campaign is the organizationâ€™s biggest fundraiser and its most vital. Thatâ€™s because the Christmas Fund doesnâ€™t only provide needed items for Christmas.
â€œThe cash donations we receive during this fundraiser help us operate the ministry for the following year,â€ Brymer said. â€œAll nonprofits experience a â€˜dry periodâ€™ after Christmas, a time when donations sharply fall off. The Christmas Fund money keeps us going during that period.â€
Brymer noted that needs for services are at an all-time high. â€œThis Monday, 60 new families showed up on our doorstep needing emergency help,â€ Brymer said. â€œThe demand has never been this hard-hitting for this long of a time period.â€
As reported in earlier editions of the Times-News, the ministry now has to spend around $8,000 per month to buy groceries to supply those in need. Thatâ€™s because the Metrolina Food Bank â€“ which is one of the ministryâ€™s main suppliers â€“ is also low on food.
Brymer is concerned that a continuing need to buy food could impact the ministryâ€™s ability to offer emergency services such as utility bill assistance, medicines and doctor visits. â€œThese people arenâ€™t going to start hurting in January,â€ she said. â€œThey are still going to need help.â€
Most people would be astounded by the amount of food being distributed by the Lincolnton ministry. Brymer noted that a pick-up truckload of food only lasts the ministry half a day. Pallets in the ministryâ€™s stockroom â€“ usually packed to the ceiling â€“ are now near the bottoms of the pallets.
â€œThe food is going out as soon as we get it in,â€ Brymer said.Â â€œWe cannot get ahead of the need.â€
Brymer hopes that local businesses, civic organizations, schools and individuals will join the 99 member churches to help meet the communityâ€™s growing need for services. She noted that local grocery businesses Wal-Mart, Harris-Teeter, Food Lion and Bi-Lo have provided lifesaving donations by donating grocery items that cannot be sold.
â€œWe couldnâ€™t have survived this year without those donations,â€ Brymer said. She said that the annual food drive by the Boy Scouts this Saturday, school food drives, and this weekendâ€™s toy drive at the Lincolnton Wal-Mart will also help.
Last yearâ€™s Christmas fund campaign raised around $91,000 and Brymer hopes that amount can be at least matched this year. She says that no donation is too small, noting that even $1.00 will buy some items that people cannot purchase with food stamps such as detergent, toilet tissue or soap.
Want to help?
There are several ways that businesses and individuals can help:
Monetary donations can be made to the ministry at P.O. Box 423, Lincolnton, N.C. 28093.
Food or toy donations can be dropped off at the ministry, 207 S. Poplar St. in Lincolnton. The ministry currently has a sufficient supply of dolls and balls. Toys for children ages 9-14 are particularly needed and a list of suggested items for this age group is available from the ministryâ€™s office.
Volunteers are needed year round, but even more will be needed on Dec. 20 when Christmas food and toys will be distributed to clients. This work involves using wheelbarrows, so Brymer hopes some strong teenagers will help out. Volunteers are also needed to sort toys and pack food boxes prior to the Dec. 20 distribution date.
Pick up an angel off one of the communityâ€™s angel trees and buy an item for the person on the tag.
If you get a free turkey or ham that you donâ€™t want, bring it to their offices and they â€œwill find it a good homeâ€ with a family in need.