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'Giving Tuesday' highlights great need across the area as organizations work to help struggling families

Nonprofit organizations are working around the clock to assist families, especially during the holidays.

The boxes of food stack high, filling a large room inside the Pennsylvania Farm Show complex. But, the boxes won't last long as 200,000 hungry people await their arrival every month in the region.

"We've seen a dramatic increase in the demand for food assistance," said Amy Hill, director of Community Engagement for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, who said the organization has seen a 40-50% increase in the amount of people seeking help in 2020. She said many of those people seeking help are also seeking it for the first time. 

'Giving Tuesday' is a welcome opportunity for nonprofits across the region to highlight the work they are doing and the continued need for donations that they rely heavily on as families continue to struggle through the pandemic.

"Every day is a giving day. Our need continues today and beyond," said Hill.

Hill's words are echoed by The Salvation Army that is currently in its biggest fundraising event of the year: the bell-ringing campaign. It's an event that comes after months of cancelled fundraisers and a rising need in requests for help. The Salvation Army is also in need of more bell ringers this year.

When the Central PA Food Bank and The Salvation were asked what donations they are in need of the most, they said monetary donations stretch the furthest as those donations can be used in more than one way.

"The need changes rather quickly so that money can be turned into a night for someone to sleep somewhere," said Lt. Oziel Urbaez of The Salvation Army serving the greater Carlisle area. Urbaez said donations to The Salvation Army can also buy toys, meals, and emotional support for families.

At the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area, workers said generosity continues in 2020 with donations of food and litter. However, they admit the amount of donations they are receiving are lower this year. 

The shelter not only feeds and finds animals homes, it also helps families who are struggling to afford to keep their pets. 

"We also offer a pet food bank for those who may be struggling financially and still want to be able to help their pets. We're able to provide food for them," Amanda Brunish of the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area.

Brunish introduced FOX43 to 8-year-old Phoenix, who is one of the dogs that will be part of the adopt-a-thon the shelter plans to hold this Saturday to find animals a forever home. 

"Earlier this year he (Phoenix) was actually found in a dumpster, which is of course extremely sad," said Brunish.

All of the organizations remind people they accept donations of money and food. However, if you are unable to give this year many nonprofits across the area are also accepting volunteers.

"There's a tremendous amount of pressure. We take our mission very seriously and we would want no one to go hungry," said Hill.