Thanksgiving is a week away and food donations are up for Wesley House Community Center in Meridian. With that being said, there's a need for volunteers.
'Just come in and sort cans, make the food packets. There's all kind of things,' says Jane Joiner, who is marking her third year of volunteering at Wesley House.
Although food donations are up this year, so is the demand. Compared to last year, this year the demand for Thanksgiving assistance is up at least 200%.
"There are people in our community that have good, stable jobs that are really suffering,' says Wesley House Executive Director, Ginger Grissom. She goes on to say that for many of the people requesting assistance, the need for food is dire.
'The families with children are saying, 'Please, I'd rather have food this Christmas than toys. If I have to have one or the other, let us have food.'
Fully serving at least six counties in East Mississippi, Grissom says increased demand this year is leading the agency to provide extra assistance in Neshoba County.
'What we're doing is working with Mayor Young and we're showing up in Philadelphia four times.'
One of those visits for food distribution will be this Friday. Then on Sunday Wesley House will provide hot Thanksgiving meals to elderly, homeless and vulnerable adults at Wesley United Methodist Church, which is across the street from the agency. For that endeavor, volunteers are still needed.
'I want the public to know today that we're depending upon them for Christmas toys and food because if Thanksgiving is like this, I'm really kind of nervous about the totals for Christmas,' says Grissom.
Here are the numbers to show the drastic increase in the demand for Thanksgiving assistance: two years ago Wesley House provided 150 families Thanksgiving meals; last year it served just over 450 families; this year it's set to serve more than 1,300 families.
Wesley House is located at 1520 8th Avenue in Meridian. The phone number is 601-485-4736.