Big Spike In Families Needing Thankgiving Help

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SCRANTON -- Organizers of one of the biggest holiday food giveaways in our area say they are overwhelmed by the number of people registering for help.

For years, the United Neighborhood Centers Thanksgiving Feed A Friend basket giveaway has been getting bigger and bigger in Scranton.  They helped 1,500 families last year.

But this year 25 percent more families have already signed up with a week left to register.

"It's really scary," said Tammy Marcinkevich at UNC.

What really concerns organizers is that a quarter of those signing up weren't here last year, never got help before. And everyone who gets a basket must have kids.

"It's really sad, it's really, really hard to think that children wouldn't have a thanksgiving dinner,” Marcinkevich said.

Eileen Elias was registering for help on Friday. She didn't need a basket last year. Now she is the caretaker for three grandchildren.

"I just got laid off.  I had a fantastic job and now I'm down to nothing, my savings is gone,” Elias explained.

She says Thanksgiving dinner would be really tough to pay for.

"This has been a really rough year, so this is going to be a blessing for our family, definitely."

United Neighborhood Centers already struggles year round to help those in need. With all the extra applications for the Thanksgiving meal, they're really hoping donors come through.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed. We're hoping that some donations will come in from community organizations and community individuals to help us meet the need,” Marcinkevich added.

You can donate to Feed A Friend barrels throughout the area or monetary donations to United Neighborhood Centers.

"This program should never end.  It's a fantastic and wonderful thing and without it, I probably wouldn't have Thanksgiving,” Elias said.

This year's basket giveaway is November 26.