ARLINGTON, Texas - After the most recent wave of layoffs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, charitable giving continues to decline.
It's become a real struggle for some North Texas churches that operate food pantries.
Shepherd of Life Lutheran Church will hand out more than 200 boxes of food for families Thursday evenight.
They've seen the need for food jump about 65 percent since the shelter-in-place order went into effect.
“They are packing up all the fresh fruits and vegetables,” volunteer Jean Lien said.
“Keep everyone safe and healthy is one of our main goals,” volunteer Mark Lien added.
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Wearing handmade masks, a handful of volunteers are working to keep the food pantry at Shepherd of Life Lutheran Church running.
“It’s still a lot of work when you limit your volunteers. A shift that is bagging, shift boxing, and someone else passing food out,” Jean explained. “The work is harder than some of us older folks are used to, but it is for a good reason.”
Volunteers, like Jean, can no longer get to know the people coming for food as well as before.
“The relationship, knowing our neighbors is a little different right now,” she said.
But they do know the need is greater than ever.
“Other thing we are seeing, I had a man roll his window down last week and say you have no idea how much this means to us. You don’t know what you are doing for us,” Jean said.
But even the givers are being stretched to their limits.
“We certainly have seen a decrease in our giving,” Pastor Mark Hadley said.
With Easter services held online, many churches experienced a drop in donations from guests who typically give their offerings in person.
While some churches are now having to furlough some employees, Pastor Hadley is hoping he won't need to make any cuts to staff.
“We are in that difficult time right now, not alone, God is with us, will continue to be with us and resurrection is coming. There will be a time when we move out of this,” he said.
But until then, Jean Lein and the other volunteers are planning to do all they can to make things a little better, one box at a time.
“We feel blessed that we can do this,” she said. “We will continue to do it as long as we have food and can stay healthy.”
Food pantries are saying that one of their big needs right now is diapers, something they can't buy in bulk right now due to limits put in place at grocery stores.