TYLER (KYTX) - The economy is forcing more families to ask for help around the holidays, while leaving fewer people able to donate - but there's a new nationwide effort to boost giving.
That's why, in the tradition of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, charities have teamed up for something called Giving Tuesday.
This mass day of fundraising started last year, but this year it's grown to about 2,000 charities, including the Red Cross, Goodwill, United Way and local non-profits.
Lights, laughter, and joy might sound like the holidays to many of us, but for a lot of struggling families, the holidays aren't so cheery.
St. Paul's Executive Director Sharlyn Cannady says, "We have seen families that live in a two room shack with one light bulb, only cold running water, washing clothes out in a creek, cooking outside, kids sleeping out under blankets."
She says there are plenty of people living like this, in Tyler, and they need help now, more than ever.
"Right now we have a lot of new families coming to our food pantry and clothes closet. Just in the month of October we had more than 160 new families come see us," Cannady said.
So far this year, the organization has helped about 10,000 East Texas families, and there's still a full month left. Last year, St. Paul's assisted 10,000 families total, which shows the numbers are growing.
Patsy Lewis has been volunteering with St. Paul's since 1990, and says, "I love that we have food and clothes for them, I love that we have the medical and dental care."
She says there are *plenty of ways to help that don't require a dime. If you're in a pinch and you just can't donate some money, you can volunteer or donate things like clothes. Right now the foundation is in great need of boys and men's clothing.
"We can't do without our donors," Cannady says. "We are happy with any kind of donations, like clothes, household goods, volunteering, we're always needing volunteers to help with the clothes closet and food pantry."
She says even just an hour of your time can make a families life much easier this season.
Many charities, like St. Paul's have a very small staff, so they always need volunteers to deal with rising number of families in need.
Giving U.S.A., which monitors U.S. donations, says Americans gave $314 billion in 2007. Last year it was just 298 billion. However, there are some signs people are in position to donate more, and many hope giving Tuesday will help encourage that.
St. Paul's also offers, health and dental care, ESL programs, and seasonal programs like Christmas and back to school give-aways.
To find out more about what the organization offers, head to the web site: http://www.stpaulchildren.org/