More People In Need Of Help

As the temperature start to drop, especially at night, a reminder that there are people who need our help.

Shelters and food banks are scrambling in response to a spike in the number of homeless.

Not surprisingly, the economy and a loss of income are the main reasons for the increase.

A shipment of 3,500 turkeys came in to the Omaha Food Bank today. That's nearly twice last year's order.

But that's not necessarily a good sign.

"We are going to distribute more food than ever before during this period of time," Brian Barks of the Omaha Food Bank said. "Our food distribution is up in excess of 25 percent when compared to a year ago. yes part of it is due to efficiency but a large part of it is due to the increased need that we have."

Barks said many of those in need are first timers and 3,500 turkeys are still not enough.

"We're about 1,000 short and that is why we're asking the public if you can donate a turkey, bring it to us here at the food bank because we are going to be short...there's no question about it," he said.

The Omaha Food Bank sends supplies to nearly 350 local and regional charitable outlets.

It's also crunch time at the Sienna/Francis House.

"There's a lot of people that need help...we've seen really high numbers all year," Mike Saklar of the Sienna/Francis House said. "We're running about 450 men, women and children on our campus every night and I would expect that we are going to hit 500 in a month. We've seen a lot of new homeless and people who have lost their jobs or their hours were reduced and they could no longer afford housing and eventually they ended up homeless."

Saklar said more women are coming to the shelters than ever before...many of them escaping domestic violence situations.

"It's a huge problem in this city and I would guess that over 90% of all the women that come here are victims of violence," Saklar said.

As a result, need has outgrown availability and 340 beds are not enough.

"We're sleeping quite a few people on the floor men and women and we'll just continue to do that," Saklar said.

There are some upcoming events where we can lend our support.

"Pump It Up" near 72nd and Dodge is having a winter coat drive this week.

Men's extra large coats are in demand.

And on the UNO campus, the 17th Annual Bell Tower Challenge for the food bank takes place.

That goes on Wednesday through noon.

New this year...a tour of the bell tower for those who donate two cans of food or $5.00.


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