The demand in Ventura County for Salvation Army services, such as food, housing and medical care, has increased 15 percent from last year, its leaders say as the charity enters its holiday season.
"Food is a big issue. There's a need for short-term rental assistance, and homelessness is increasing, especially among families."
The Salvation Army hopes to give Christmas gift boxes to about 1,000 needy families throughout Ventura County this year, Finley said. Each box will have enough food to feed an average family for about a week and include all the items for a holiday meal, plus a toy for each child under 12.
The face of those in need in Ventura County has changed since last year, Finley said.
"For the first time, we are seeing groups of people becoming homeless directly as a result of the economy." "Usually, multiple factors contribute to homelessness, but now it's simply as a result of the economy — people who have lost it all."
Maj. Eric Lo of the Salvation Army in Oxnard said his group is committed to helping more individuals and families than it did last year and hopes Ventura County residents will give more this year.
Donations of food and toys can be dropped off at any Salvation Army office. To find an office or donate online, go to http://www.salvationarmyusa.org
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