By LUCAS STROUGH
Helping Hands of Kilgore is spreading holiday cheer with special food items leading into the festive season.
“For the last month, we’ve been providing Thanksgiving items in preparation for the Thanksgiving meal,” said Helping Hands Executive Director Ursula Plaisance. “We also gave the regular pantry, but then we gave added items.”
Plaisance estimated the pantry served 350 families last month, about the average monthly number, but said there has been a recent uptick in people applying for food assistance.
“The crazy thing is, just last week, every day we’ve been open, we’ve signed up five to nine new clients every day,” Plaisance said, adding 14 or 15 new families may now be served by Helping Hands. Some of these clients may have used the service years ago but some have likely never used it before.
“The need is definitely present."
Local organizations pitched in to support the pantry’s efforts to feed locals for the holidays. On Saturday, Boy Scout Troop 252 and Cub Scout Pack 251 picked up food to donate to Helping Hands.
“Helping Hands feels so grateful,” Plaisance said. “At Scouting for Food on Saturday, we got over 2200 pounds of food and some monetary donations.” These donations brought the total of donated food items for the holiday season to more than 2,300 pounds.
“We’re able to distribute those items for Thanksgiving but also we’ll have a head start on Christmas.”
She added the “Feathers for Food” program at Chandler Elementary, which raised $2010.75 for Helping Hands, was a big help as well.
“All of that helps to be able to make our clients Thanksgiving and Christmas that much brighter,” she said.