NEW BOSTON, Ohio (WSAZ) -- With unemployment in this country over the 10-percent mark, the White House and the U.S. Department of Agriculture now report that 30-percent more Americans are looking for food assistance, and over half of the nation's food banks have had to turn people away.
That's why a nationwide volunteer effort is trying to get folks involved with the hungry, the homeless and anyone else in need.
At this time of the year, those bells ringing outside of stores are the universal sign of help; the holidays bring a need to our attention.
This week in New Boston, Ohio, the police department is preparing a Santa's Helper program. The program helps more than 475 local children.
"I just like helping the people and the kids and families that need it," volunteer Brittany Carter said. "I think it's good for the community."
Folks are using time and effort, but there's no time card involved in this volunteer work. Local missions are packed during the holiday with the lonely and the hungry, but also folks wishing to help.
This week, we've seen the holiday decorations go up at the White House and the First Family push to recognize volunteers. Now, the White House is making volunteering a little easier, taking away the "I don’t know what to do" factor.
If you click on this link, you will be taken to a website where you can type in your area of interest, for example: hunger. Organizations will pop up that need volunteer help in your community.
New information released through the Department of Agriculture shows that 17 million households, or about 15% if American families, have problems putting food on the table during the year. It also says one in five participates in nutrition assistance programs and that requests for emergency food assistance is up 39-percent compared to last year.
Volunteering time or dropping off your spare change makes a difference, and many will attest that giving back is the best gift of all.
"In a lot of ways it's very much a gift to us that we're able to provide that," one volunteer said. "It's just a very important part of our community, it's something we really care about."
One way you can help the mission in Huntington this weekend, for example, is a Jingle Bell Walk Fundraiser on Saturday at Ritter Park. Registration starts at 10:30 that morning. If you'd like to sign up, give the Huntington City Mission a call.