Financial crisis hurts local charities

PACOIMA The volunteers of M.E.N.D., or Meet Each Need with Dignity, are on the front lines of a war on poverty throughout the San Fernando Valley.

M.E.N.D. takes on the battle against poverty. Each month M.E.N.D. gives out hundreds of boxes of food to families in need.

Marianne Haver, M.E.N.D.'s executive director, says the group is serving an unprecedented number of people.

"It used to be that we would give out maybe 600 boxes a month," said Haver. "Now, it's 1200 boxes in a month."

Haver said the number of families needing help has shot up dramatically, but what's most interesting is that the number of senior citizens coming to M.E.N.D. for help has doubled.

"The cost of food has gone way up and the cost of fuel," said Haver. "People who are living in very small fixed incomes just can't make it."

Haver said demand is out pacing supplies these days.

"We need turkeys. We need canned goods for the holidays. We need new toys for children," said Haver.

M.E.N.D. is also seeking new blankets and used clothing that is still in good condition.

From food to clothing and more, Haver says the Pacoima-based organization, is helping people and families who have fallen through the cracks.

"You want to feel like you can do it by yourself but unfortunately in today's world it's a lot harder than it's been before, so thank god I found this place," said Tiffany Gonzales who receives help from M.E.N.D. for her and her children.

Volunteers fear that without help soon, others like Tiffany will be sadly turned away. M.E.N.D. is looking bodies to help families in need during the holidays.

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