Area agencies help those in need this holiday season

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is just two days away. Many of us will be spending time with family and friends.

Area social service agencies say that for a countless number of families, it will be a challenge to put food on the table and make ends meet.

The need is great. So say officials from social service agencies from across our area. Now they are putting the word out. Financial help and volunteers are needed to help those individuals and families now facing challenges.

Hector Martin is a volunteer at the St. Joseph’s Food Pantry in Hazleton. He sees first-hand the need each and every day.

“People come, I see the amount of things they give to people. It really helps them out. You know some people come mostly on time. They need the help. I’m glad that we are here. I’m here to volunteer to help make that possible you know,” Martin said.

The food pantry is run by Catholic Social Services of Greater Hazleton.

“Those numbers have stayed pretty consistent for us though even though those numbers have always been fairly high it’s always about the individual. Trying not to lose track of serving the individual family and the needs of those families and helping them get the support that they need,” Catholic Social Services of Greater Hazleton director Neil Oberto said.

And this year due in large part to the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic, housing is an issue.

“One of the biggest things that we have seen in the last year are challenges individuals are facing with housing. Rental costs which are becoming very very exorbitant .People who have been renting for years, extended amount of years for whatever reason are being asked to leave,” Oberto said.

Catholic Social Services works with agencies like the United Way to face these challenges.

“So we need folks to give not only product at this time of year but we need support financially so this United Way could also support 20 member agencies,” United Way of Hazleton CEO Pat Ward said.

Eyewitness News also spoke with Bill Jones of the United Way of the Wyoming Valley. He too says the need continues to grow.

“The same needs as last year are the needs this year. Rental housing. Housing assistance is a big issue. The utilities are a big issue and food remains a big issue as well,” Jones said.

Officials at all of these agencies say the need is met only because the community comes together. They urge anyone or any business that wants to lend a helping hand to reach out to social service agencies in their region.

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