Locally, the numbers echo that stark reality. As Staff Writer David Floyd reported in Saturday’s edition, the Tennessee Department of Labor reported new unemployment claims in the upper eight counties jumped from 81 during the week of March 14 to 4,749 during the week of March 28. Statewide, Tennessee received more than 120,000.
So your neighbors are hurting. Many already were living paycheck to paycheck. Missing even one jeopardizes rent, mortgage and utility payments, food purchases and other essential financial needs. We imagine that credit card debt is ringing up fast.
Government stimulus programs ultimately will offer some relief at the business and personal levels, but until this crisis passes, people will continue to be in deep need.
In what you might call a catch 22, the increased demand for assistance has pushed organizations that provide such help to the max, while the economic downturn limits their ability to do more. As Senior Reporter Sue Guinn Legg reported in Sunday’s edition, two of this community’s major providers, Good Samaritan Ministries and the Johnson City Salvation Army, are quickly depleting their resources.
Three weeks ago, Good Samaritan began delivering food boxes to the homes of isolated seniors, families with children and people who have lost jobs. Food distributions tripled. Meanwhile, the number of meals Good Sam provides for The Melting Pot emergency dining room at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church increased to more than 3,800. The Salvation Army provides 150 evening meals-to-go now from its emergency kitchen, along with three meals each day for about 20 men and women in its shelters. Requests for social services including assistance with rent and utilities are up at both ministries
At the same time, Good Sam reported that monetary donations were low and contributions were spent as quickly as they came in.
And these organizations are bracing for even more demand as the crisis wages on.
Both ministries are in need of monetary donations, nonperishable food items, cleaning supplies, disinfectants, hand sanitizer and personal protection equipment, including masks and gloves. Both have set up ways for people to donate online and in person.
Good Samaritan Ministries has a drive-through drop-off center for donations on the King Street side of its building at 100 N. Roan St. Monetary donations to help the ministry can be made online at goodsamjc.org, by mail to Good Samaritan Ministries, P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City TN 37605, or by texting “Give” to 833-224-6131.
The Salvation Army is accepting drop-off donations of nonperishable food, cleaning supplies and personal protection items outside its office at 204 W. Walnut St. Call the office at 423-926-2101 to arrange for someone to meet in the parking area. Monetary donations can be made by mail to the office or online at give.salvationarmykentuckyandtennessee.org.
If you have the means, please do your part. Our guess is most people who are suddenly in need never imagined back in February they would be in these straights. And the wind continues to blow.
If ever there were a time to help your neighbors, it is now.