The Christmas season is traditionally a season of giving - and for most people, that giving extends to local charities.
Thanks to what local Salvation Army Capt. Barbara McCauley calls an "overwhelming" outpouring of support, her organization was able to provide Christmas toys and food to about 130 Huntington families.
Love INC made Christmas brighter for some 340 more families, thanks to the efforts of local churches and community members, says Kyle Miller, Love's ministry coordinator.
"We've been incredibly blessed," Miller says.
But what happens after Christmas?
"I don't think they forget about us when it's not the Christmas season," McCauley says. "Sometimes they just don't realize we still need help beyond the holiday season."
Although the Salvation Army, Love INC and other area charities and food banks provide assistance all year to those in need, they tend to receive a rush of donations over the Christmas holiday.
"December is definitely our biggest donation month," Miller says. "Leading into the holidays, around Thanksgiving, is when it really picks up."
The Salvation Army's familiar bell ringers set up their red donation kettles each year around Thanksgiving, the most visible part of a fund-raising effort that, this year, had a goal of raising $100,000 locally.
The bell ringers were out through Christmas Eve, and McCauley says the local Salvation Army had raised about 60 percent of that goal by just before Christmas. She's hoping mailed-in donations will take her to the $100,000 mark before Dec. 31.
"Generally, donations do go down after Christmas," she says. "But there are still needs."
The money raised at Christmas is used all year to help local people pay their rent and utility bills, provide for medical care and meet other emergency needs, she says.
"That's why the Christmas effort we do is so vitally important," Mc- Cauley says.
Miller says that while Christmas is the optimal time for giving, people seem perfectly willing to give at other times of the year - they just need to be asked.
"We come to people a lot more during the holidays," he says. "But our community is incredible in stepping up when there's a need. It just might require a bit more initiative on our part to put that in front of the community."
Miller says Love INC is always in need of food, personal hygiene products and cleaning supplies.
"Meat is very expensive and not often donated," Miller says, adding that milk and canned fruit are also on Love INC's want list. "And toilet paper - it's really expensive, and we run out quickly."
Cash is always welcome, both to purchase items for the food pantry and to pay the organization's operating expenses, he says. Love INC provides food to about 350 families a month all year, he says, and helps others with expenses such as utility bills.
He encourages anyone who wants to donate to call first to find out where the needs are.
"What we really appreciate is when people call us and ask us what we need," Miller says. "What we can use, what we're low on."
Miller says the greatest need Love INC sees during the summer is food. McCauley echoes that, adding hygiene products, diapers and back-to-school items to the list.
And like Miller, McCauley says she's sure the community will step up to fill the need.
"It was very overwhelming to see how much they donated throughout the holiday season," she says.
The Salvation Army, located at 1424 E. Market St. in Huntington, can be reached at 356-3485. Love INC is located at 715 Byron St. in Huntington and can be reached at 356-0933.
In addition to the county-wide organizations, individual food pantries are located in several Huntington County communities. Representatives of those food pantries say they can also use some help.
• At the Roanoke Food Pantry, volunteer coordinator Charlotte Smart says they "continually need stuff."
Currently, the pantry is in need of macaroni and cheese and chicken noodle soup.
Sometimes, she says families in need do not receive help because "no one tells us they need something," but she says there are supplies available for those who need help.
The food pantry not only provides food for area families, but also can supply toiletries, which Smart says are in hearty stock. The pantry will also assist with paying utility bills.
The pantry is open on an as-needed basis. Anyone who needs help or wishes to donate should contact Smart at 672-2042.
• The Andrews food pantry, Shepherd's Food Pantry, is open every third Thursday each month. The pantry, which is run by Patricia McCloskey, normally distributes 25 boxes of food per month. Each box typically contains three to four meals.
This holiday season, however, McCloskey says the need increased, and the pantry distributed 35 boxes of food the Thursday before Christmas, on Dec. 20.
However, the pantry is now nearly out of food, although McCloskey says, "We didn't completely get rid of everything."
"Andrews especially is an area that is very economically depressed," says McCloskey,
"And they are just so grateful."
There is a constant need, she says.
"We've had calls for people to come pick up more things as soon as Christmas is over."
McCloskey says the pantry is in need of paper products, such as toilet paper and paper towels. These items are "always a challenge to keep in supply," she points out.
She says the pantry also could use sauces, beans, au gratin potatoes, produce (fruit especially, canned or fresh) and canned meats such as tuna or chicken.
"People never say, ‘I don't need this,'" McCloskey notes, "They are just grateful to come."
To make a monetary donation to the pantry, checks may be addressed to Shepherd's Food Pantry, PO Box 453, Huntington, IN 46750.
To donate food or toiletries, contact Ray Tackett at 417-3708 or Glenn Fisher at 758-3450.
• In Warren, the food pantry is focused on children.
"After the holidays it really hits us heavy," says Rose Broyles, head of the pantry. "Trying to get food out for the kids to eat (while on winter break) really diminished our supply.
"We need individual servings of food, or canned foods, anything easy for a child to prepare for themselves," she adds.
She says the pantry needs toilet paper, shampoo and diapers in addition to healthy foods such as juices and chicken noodle soup.
"It would be great to see donations of those items so people who get the flu do not get dehydrated," Broyles says.
She also points out how important it is to keep food in homes when the weather in inclement.
"When the weather gets bad and people aren't able to get out, they exhaust their supplies," she says, "This really gets to be a critical thing."
The pantry is open on Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Broyles says if the weather prohibits the pantry from opening on a Wednesday afternoon, it will try to open on the following Friday.
"Kids have to have food to get through the weekend," she says. "It's the children that we serve, it is important to get food into houses ... we really have to focus."
The pantry is connected to the Knight Bergman Center, located at 123 Nancy St., Warren.
Broyles says community members may contact any area minister to give a donation, or contact the Warren Area Ministerial Association.
• The food pantry in Markle is housed at 105 E. Morse St., downtown Markle.
Kathie Mower, a food pantry volunteer, says "supplies are typically depleted after the holiday season."
She says the pantry tries to give out peanut butter and jelly, canned goods and pastas throughout the year.
She also notes that health and beauty items are not donated as often, but "it is something that we would like to give out."
The pantry is supported solely by donations, and four area churches - the Markle Church of Christ, Markle United Methodist Church, Union Church and Awakening Community Church - accept food donations for the pantry.
Checks can be sent to PO Box 105, Markle, IN 46770.
The pantry is open the third Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Two homeless shelters that serve Huntington County could also use support from the community throughout the year.
Malta House, in Huntington, which provides homeless men ages 18 and older with a place to stay, food and clothing, needs monetary donations to help pay for a variety of things. Among those things, says Teresa Kaylor, a member of the Malta House Ministry Board of Directors, are toiletries, clothing and cash to cover the house's utility bills.
An eye doctor currently provides the house's residents with free eye care and farmers have donated meat. Kaylor encourages others in the community to donate their skills and cites dental work as one of the residents' biggest needs.
To donate, Kaylor recommends making a donation via PayPal on the organization's website, maltaministry.org.
Kaylor says checks may be sent to Malta House Ministries at PO Box 81, Huntington, IN 46750. As a 501(c)(3) organization, any donation made to Malta House can be counted as a charitable contribution on taxes, Kaylor says.
Carolyn Ray, manager of Huntington House, in Huntington, which provides housing for homeless families, women and children, says monetary donations are necessary to help keep the house stocked with supplies such as paper towels, tissue paper and cleaning supplies.
Overall, Ray is pleased with the support that Huntington House received from the community in 2012.
"This year has been the best year," she says.
Fraternal Order of Eagles 823, in Huntington, provided the residents of Huntington House with Christmas gifts, says Ray, and United Technologies, in Huntington, and Nesco Sales & Rentals, in Bluffton, provided the house with supplies. Additionally, the J.A.G. class at Huntington North High School took up a donation for the house.
An incentive to donating to Huntington House before 2013, says Ray, is that donors will receive 50 percent of their donation amount as a tax credit for next year. The minimum donation is $100, which will result in $50 of tax credits.
The organization was awarded $7,240 in state tax credits by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority for the Neighborhood Assistance Program in August.
To make a donation, Ray recommends calling the house at 358-0748 or calling her at 224-1675. Donations can be mailed or dropped off at the house, located at 576 William St., Huntington.