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Economic downturn boosts charitable needs

Consumer perception of the economy is shaky going into the holiday season. Gains in consumer confidence during the late summer months decreased in October, as households reported fears about the labor market. Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said consumers are also pessimistic about their future earnings.Hank Watson, chief development officer of Care and Share, said his organization is feeling the effects of the economic downturn as demand is up and donations are down.”The face of hunger has changed,” Watson said. He said more people seeking assistance from Care and Share’s 400 member agencies are families who have suffered recent job loss or reduced hours and struggling to stay in their homes.Watson said Care and Share is going into the holiday season playing catch up from the summer months. In preparation for Thanksgiving, Care and Share is partnering with KRDO Radio for their annual Harvest of Love turkey drive. Watson said people can donate turkeys Nov. 20 at drop off locations throughout Colorado Springs. The closest participating Wal-Mart to the Falcon area is the store at Powers Boulevard and Woodmen Road. The 2008 drive fed 100,000 people, he said. “It’s so important that we get as many turkeys as we did last year.”High Plains Helping Hands Food Pantry is also experiencing increased demand. Ed Storey, HPHH Board of Directors president, said the pantry serves families living along the Highway 24 corridor all the way to Limon and as far south as Rush and Yoder.As the holidays approach, HPHH serves about 210 families per month. Some patrons come weekly; others rarely get assistance, Storey said. “The patrons are really trying to make it on their own,” he said. HPHH is currently collecting food items to prepare special Thanksgiving baskets to help provide a traditional turkey meal for the holiday. Last year, 200 families received the Thanksgiving food baskets and Storey said it is hard to predict the need this year.In addition to food baskets, HPHH is running a toy drive for Christmas. HPHH is staffed entirely with volunteers, and the pantry makes treating patrons with dignity a top priority. “When people come in they are hurting and they need to be treated as more than a number,” Storey said. HPHH volunteers are available to entertain small children while patrons get the food they need.All families can get assistance through Angel Ministries, which offers low-cost food boxes. Hosted by Grace Community Church, food boxes containing meats, vegetables and dairy products can be purchased for $30 each. Each box is designed to feed a family of four a week of dinners. Melanie Stone, Grace Community Church Angel Food Ministry director, said the program is for everyone. “It’s a great way to save money,” she said.The challenge for Stone is getting the word out about the pre-order period. “You have to order two weeks in advance,” she said.Stone said ordering is easy – either online at or at Grace Community Church, where they can take cash and food stamp orders.In addition to the standard box, Angel Food Ministries offers pre-prepared meals for seniors, allergen-free breaded meats and specialty meat and produce boxes.The pre-order period for the special Thanksgiving box ended in October, but Stone said it is likely Angel Food Ministries will offer a similar box for Christmas, providing families the opportunity to celebrate with a feast without breaking the bank.Falcon area food programs: contact informationAngel Food Ministries9475 Grace Church ViewFalcon, CO 80831719-749-2791.www.angelfoodministries.comBlack Forest Cares (serves Black Forest residents only)12455 Black Forest Rd.Black Forest, Colorado 80908719-495-2221Ellicott Helping HandsHwy 94 at Ellicott PlazaEllicott, Colorado 80908719-683-3240Helping Hands Pantry14755 US Highway 24Peyton, Colorado 80831888-457-4263 or

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