Holiday need up, donations down at Church Street Ministries in Berea

BEREA, Ohio - Usually the week before Thanksgiving, the freezers and cupboards at Church Street Ministries are full of holiday food for the needy. But that wasn't the case Wednesday morning.

"They're all bare," said Frannie Millward, Minister of Outreach. "This is unheard of for us. This is absolutely unheard of."

Millward, 87, grew up during the Depression but she said conditions today are about as bad as she's ever seen.

"They need jobs and they're working only maybe two days a week, three days a week. They can't make it on that," she said.

What's more, food stamp benefits were just cut. For Brandy Price, the cuts mean $54 out of her monthly food budget.

"I have to now re-budget how I buy my food and try to make it stretch out to the end of the month," said Price, who has depended on Church Street Ministries over the years to help her family of five meet their food, clothing and medical needs.

"She's been a blessing," Price said of Millward.

But Millward is concerned that Church Street Ministries won't be able to fulfill all the needs there are across Cuyahoga County this holiday season. You see, while the need has increased, donations have decreased as people who usually donate are struggling, too.

Proceeds from a big Christmas sale this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will help Church Street Ministries help the families in need. Shoppers will find a selection of holiday items, including ornaments, wreaths and candles.

The sale is at the Second Mile Shop, 398 W. Bagley Road, #7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. You can also send money or drop off donations at that address.

For more information, call 440-826-4531

Millward said the situation is dire for the holidays and beyond.

"When we can't have enough cereal to give to the children for breakfast in the morning, this is sad," she said. "It's sad."

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