During the holiday season, the spirit of giving fills the air.
But for some local nonprofits, just giving in December isn’t enough to help them get by.
“The shelves are bare and that usually doesn’t happen in November,” said Renee Figurelle, director of Virginia Peninsula Foodbank. “I’m really concerned about how we’re going to make it through the next few months.”
The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank is just one of the many nonprofits that strive to feed the hungry in the Williamsburg area. Since the closing of Farm Fresh locations across Hampton Roads, the foodbank is short about 93,000 pounds than usual.
But with the holiday season coming up they’re hoping, like others, to make up for this deficit.
“There are a lot of people in the area who are in need far more than people realize,” said Jean Bruss, president of FISH, Inc. FISH is a non profit run entirely by volunteers that provides food, clothing and home goods to those in need.
Bruss said they see a huge spike in donations during the holiday season, but those donations tend to run out after a couple months. After that, the organization has to look for ways to pay for the food or advocate for more donations.
In the last year FISH provided 175,000 meals to families in Williamsburg and Bruss said that takes a lot of money and food to cover that many meals.
The meals go to low-income households or those experiencing a crisis situation. All recipients are vetted for need by the United Way before being given the meals.
“These are people in crisis situations sometimes,” Bruss said. “And they, as well as everybody else, deserve to have what they need for the holidays, too.”
While nonprofits see a rise in donations during December, many of them say they still struggle to fill needs throughout the rest of the year.
Katherine Upton, executive director of Meals on Wheels in Williamsburg, said they are constantly fundraising throughout the year.
With approximately 120 meals a day at $5 a meal, according to program director Ellen Horine, Meals on Wheels provides food to large portions the elderly in the area that don’t have family or caregivers to provide for them.
For Thanksgiving and Christmas, volunteers deliver an extra meal that the recipient can have for the holiday.
But, during the holiday season as the winter months grow colder, Upton said their client base increases significantly.
“As it gets colder, people find themselves having to choose between the heating bill and groceries,” she said. “I think as people sit around their tables full of food, it’s important to remember that there are those who wouldn’t be eating without Meals on Wheels.”
At the York County Food Closet, chairwoman Liz Bryant works year-round to make sure there are enough meals for their recipients. During the holidays, the food closet even gives recipients an extra $15 gift card to provide a holiday meal for their families.
The food closet provides for about 2,350 individuals, many of whom find themselves in need after an emergency situation, Bryant said. The food closet finds itself well-stocked after the holiday season, especially with non-perishable items that can be used throughout the year.
For all of these nonprofits, the goal is to feed the hungry. And while they are all grateful for any donations during the holiday season, they are still in need the other 11 months.
“People are hungry 365 days a year,” Figurelle said. “We love what people bring but we need these items throughout the year. Bring a dollar or one can even, and we will be happy.”