As Christmas approaches, the need for donations at local nonprofit organizations in Columbus is growing.
Feeding the Valley executive director Babbs Douglas said Tuesday that despite an improving economy, there has been no drop off in the number of people needing the organization's help.
"There are still people who don't have a job," she said.
In October, Feeding the Valley delivered 600,000 pounds of food. Douglas said that was 100,000 pounds more than last October.
"Things get a little crazy this time of year, but we are getting people fed," she said.
Feeding the Valley supplies food to about 220 agencies in 14 counties, which then distribute it to the needy. It also delivers food directly by operating a mobile food pantry and Kids Cafe.
Douglas said last fiscal year, which ended June 30, Feeding the Valley distributed 6 million pounds of food.
The food comes to the organization from several sources. One of those is the public.
"We are always in need of canned meats and vegetables," Douglas said.
Those are given to agencies that fix food boxes to get families through tough times.
Anyone wishing to drop off food may do it Monday through Thursday at Feeding the Valley's 5928 Coca-Cola Blvd. location.
Douglas said if a business wishes to have a food drive, Feeding the Valley will bring barrels to collect food. Feeding the Valley will then pick up the food. Those interested in having a food drive can call 706-561-4755, ext. 2.
Elder Bobby Harris at the House of Mercy said while things are looking "just a little bit better" than last year, there are still a lot of needs at the homeless shelter at 1532 Third Ave.
Harris said there are currently 57 people, including four children, living at the House of Mercy.
"We could really use some breakfast-type foods such as grits and eggs. That stuff doesn't get donated very often," he said. "Non-perishable food items are also welcome, and we are still in need of toys to give away to community children at Christmas. Of course, we'll be grateful for any monetary donation."
In the Christmas Assistance Program at the Valley Rescue Mission, approximately 1,100 children have applied to receive Christmas toys and 551 families have applied for cards that may be used to buy holiday food.
"Obviously, we need people to donate new toys and either a card from a local grocery or money to use to purchase the cards," said Donna Pearce, director of development.
She said the need is great for non-perishable food items as about 19 food bags are given to families each weekday. In October, 854 bags of food were given to help families.
"A lot of people in the community have trouble making ends meet," Pearce said. "We don't want anyone going hungry."
Donations may be dropped off at the Valley Rescue Mission, 2903 Second Ave.
Major Henry Hunter of the Salvation Army said monetary donations were down last year from the year before. And since Thanksgiving came late this year, donations are down right now.
"This is money we use to help people throughout the year, not just at Christmas," Hunter said.
Salvation Army bell ringers will be taking donations this year at Piggly Wiggly, JCPenney, Walmart, Hobby Lobby and Sears.
Hunter said the Salvation Army is always in need of non-perishable food items, which may be dropped off its locations at 1718 Second Ave. and 5201 Warm Springs Road.
The Open Door Community House is accepting non-perishable food items. It is also in need of personal hygiene items. New toys for children up to age 17 will be welcomed at the facility at 2405 Second Ave.