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Drives to provide turkeys for needy falling short

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Local churches and social-service agencies have faced a myriad of challenges in providing help to the needy. The slow economy, dwindling donations, and even theft, have made it difficult for some programs to deliver services.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, many organizations have found themselves working with less. Despite the challenges, some groups are digging deep to make sure struggling people can still enjoy the holiday.

Divine Faith Ministries International in Jonesboro is seeking enough turkeys to feed 300 needy people. Last year, the church was able to feed 250 people, according to Dorothy Johnson, the church's outreach coordinator.

The church "wanted to [feed] 300 [people], but our donations are way down," said Johnson. "If we don't get more, we are just going to have to feed as many as we can with what we have. Right now, we are very low ... we have 30-some turkeys."

Johnson said the church has commitments for more turkey donations, and will continue to collect them until Thanksgiving evening.

"We really believe in feeding the hungry," said Johnson. "We feel like even when the world says, 'no,' we as believers should be able to say, 'yes.' We really believe things are going to come through for us."

Denese Rodgers, director of Connecting Henry, which links Henry county residents to educational, cultural, health, and economic resources, said,"There's a lot more people seeking fewer resources" due to the drastic turn in the economy.

"They are doing over 240 evictions a month in Henry County," said Rodgers. "What we're finding is that we are having more middle class families falling into poverty, and our middle class families don't have the coping skills that our poverty class people have. It's genuinely a culture shock."

Rodgers said while many people are dealing with their own financial problems, it is important for people not to forget the less fortunate. She noted how agencies in the Southern Crescent area came together in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"Who would have known what we could do when Katrina happened, and I've seen our community pull together time and time again," said Rodgers. "I think they'll need to look into their hearts and see what they can pull out, whether it's time, talent, or treasure. It's hard to say, 'I'm willing to help, put me to work,' but in my experience, that is invaluable."

Some organizations are working on a smaller scale to do what they can for the community. On Sunday, from 3-6 p.m., Restoring the Love Again, Inc., a Forest Park-based domestic violence help organization, will host a Thanksgiving dinner for local victims of domestic abuse.

Jackie Dodson, the organization's director, said 30 people have confirmed for the dinner. Most of the food and volunteer effort will be provided by friends and family members. Dodson said every little bit of effort helps.

"God can do a lot with a very little bit," said Dodson. "I'm not going to say that things aren't tight for me, but I am looking beyond my own situation. If everybody does a little bit, we can make a big difference."

To donate turkeys to Divine Faith Ministries International, call (770) 603-6772. To contribute to Restoring the Love Again, Inc., call (678) 993-9284.