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OUR VIEW: Local food shelves need your help more than ever

On a very recent Friday the Christian Cupboard helped a record number of people in need.

Nearly 200 families from in and around Woodbury lined up at the local food shelf, located inside Woodbury Lutheran Church, to receive groceries and other basic items.

At a 30-percent increase over last year's usage, Dick Wolff said the food shelf is the busiest he's seen it in the 26 years he and his wife Sharon have run the non-profit organization.

And with the holidays fast approaching, Wolff said he predicts those unprecedented numbers to continue through the New Year.

In fact, across the Twin Cities the number of individuals and families relying on food shelf assistance is up more than 20 percent in 2009. That's according to Minnesota FoodShare, which supports local food shelves across the state.

We're quite certain that, by now, most people understand that many of the people recently using the Christian Cupboard and other food shelves across the metro are those who never considered they would need help. Many who have come into the Christian Cupboard have recently lost their jobs and have multiple children to support, Wolff said.

What people might not know is there are more than a few ways to help your local food shelf.

Currently, the Christian Cupboard is still looking for donations and volunteers to help with preparation and distribution of Thanksgiving packages. Each year volunteers at the food shelf organize a package for families, that according to Wolff "includes all the fixings."

Those who determine they are in need of some Thanksgiving help have a final opportunity to register for an assistance package Saturday, Nov. 21 from 9 a.m.-noon.

Coming up around the bend the Christian Cupboard will be preparing to organize assistance packages for Christmas. The packages include gift certificates to a local grocery store and present for children of all ages. Wolff emphasized that just as many presents are needed for teenagers as there are for young children.

The last day for families in need to register to receive a Christmas package is Dec. 5. The Christian Cupboard is still in need of donations to fill those requests.

The organization is also looking for one or two volunteers to assist with operating a crisis center for people who are in emergency situations where they cannot pay rent or their utility bills. Wolff said the ideal candidate for this position is a volunteer in the community with the availability during the daytime and a desire to help connect those in need to the appropriate resources.

We realize that the holidays are a time for family and that's starts with your own. But we see the tremendous impact that organizations like the Christian Cupboard have in this community and we sincerely hope that anyone out there with the ability to help the growing numbers of families in need in our community will find a way to do so this holiday season.

Those interested in helping the Christian Cupboard with volunteer time or donations can call 651-332-9042.