Donations up, but need continues

First Posted: 12/23/2008

Mondee Tilley
Staff Reporter

Although donations to the Yokefellow Cooperative Ministry and food pantry are up this year so is the demand.
Jill Borders, the program coordinator for Yokefellow, said that while the shelves are full right now, there is no guarantee the local agency will be able to keep up with the demand, especially after Christmas is over.
We have been swamped to be honest. We are trying to do everything we can to keep up with the demand. Its unfortunate that our local economic situation has made it necessary for more people to seek assistance. We are trying our very best to make sure we do what we can for them, Borders said.
In November, Yokefellow Ministry fed 1,026 people. She said November is typically the organizations busiest month. This December has been busier than last year, but since the month is not over, Borders could not speculate on the amount of people helped this month.
The Yokefellow Ministry also helps people with paying their utility bills, gives out money to buy prescription medication and buys kerosene to heat homes in the winter. Prescription medication help is only available to those who dont have health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.
The greatest demand, of course, is for our food program. The need is up tremendously, so we are trying to meet that. We have food that is donated from churches. We have food that comes from local food drives, like the scouts and the postal drive. We have people who donate money, and we do have funds that we pay for food.
Food Lion recently donated $2,500 to the ministry. Borders said Yokefellow gets a lot of help from many different area businesses. Lowes Foods also donates food to the ministry through its Friends Feeding Friends food drive.
That is a major food drive, and we get a tremendous amount of donations from them, Borders said.
Northern Hospital of Surry County has also been a big contributor in the last month.
The hospital has helped us greatly. Northern Hospital has been very generous to us during this Christmas season.
Our shelves look good right now. Weve had a lot of people answer to the demand. We got low on food back in October. Even back then we were seeing an increase in demand. But since then we have been able to restock, so at the moment, the shelves are looking pretty good. But with the kind of volume that we are seeing, I assure you it wont be there long. We will have folks that need it and we will certainly need it.
The problem that weve had is that weve had so many business closings. Its very difficult for our economy to absorb that much. So a lot of people are either under-employed or havent been able to find employment. They are not counted in the unemployment statistics because the unemployment thing only covers a very narrow area. It doesnt count people who have exhausted their benefits and they have been unable to find something, so they are still out of work.
The Yokefellow Ministry had to decrease the amount it was able to give out for kerosene because of the cost of high fuel prices back in the spring.
We have taken steps to better manage the kerosene. We have had a number of donations, and we are hoping to increase the number of people we help with utilities and also the maximum amount for prescription medications. We had to decrease our amount earlier this year from $100 to $75 as the maximum to help folks buy their medication.
Right now, Yokefellow is helping six people per week through its energy assistance program.
We do have more demand for that than we are able to meet. Some weeks I have twice that number of people here waiting for help. Then some weeks, we dont have the six.
Borders said she hopes people remember to giving even after Christmas is over.
There are so many people out there that need help right now. We are overwhelmed in terms of people needing help. The thing that most concerns me are the families with children and their ability to weather the difficulties that we are experiencing locally.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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