BRISTOL, Va. - Local organizations looking to help people in times of need are finding they need some help of their own. The problem they're facing inside the Bristol Ministry Mall is a shortage of resources, and leaders fear it will get worse unless the community steps in.
Gene Mann knows first-hand -- sometimes it can be hard to make ends meet, and when it is, the Bristol Emergency Food Pantry is there to help.
"People here are real nice, and they will help you, and they will do anything for you," Mann told News 5 before he picked up some food to take home.
We learned this pantry is seeing more people like Mann come in every day.
"For July, we had almost 650 vouchers, representing over 1,600 individuals, which is higher than normal," said director Jim White.
That's leaving shelves almost bare.
"We go to the store virtually every day to replenish the supplies when the food doesn't come in by donation. The last month we spent over $10,000 at the grocery store on food," White added.
Just next door, the Higher Faith Ministries Clothes Closet if facing the same dilemma, only instead of empty shelves, they have empty hangers. "Children's clothes [seem] to be the biggest need that we have. We never have enough children's clothes," said director Becky Hale.
News 5 found out the ministry will need about 2,000 coats to give away this winter season, and we checked the kids section and found out they've only got three so far.
"We also have a really high demand for things like T-shirts, blue jeans, [and] casual clothes," added Hale.
Their closet is filled strictly with donations, because we discovered monetary help is slim. "On a typical visit, we may have 300 [to] 400 people come through here, and have $6 or $7 dropped in the box," Hale said.
That's why whether it's food or clothes you're willing to give, it can be the lifeline to those who need it most, and that does not go unnoticed.
"People appreciate it," said Mann.
News 5 learned facts on how to help:
The Higher Faith Ministries Clothes Closet is looking for clothes of all sizes that are clean and in good condition.
Children's clothing, winter coats, underwear, and socks are especially needed.
Donations can be dropped off at their location inside the Bristol Ministry Mall at 21 Washington Street, Bristol, Virginia the first and third Tuesdays of each month from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
For more information call (423) 764-7904 or visit www.higherfaith.org.
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