'Tis better to give.
Last week, the Volunteers of America Northwest Ohio distributed more than 600 food boxes to area families in need.
Cars were lined up in the parking lot of Crossroads, a homeless center operated by the Volunteers of America, on Superior Street all day Wednesday as volunteers smiled while working in the bitter cold.
"It's fun -- you meet a lot of good people and it's for a good cause," said volunteer Joseph Bly.
For those who couldn't make it out to Crossroads to pick up their boxes, the organization also made house calls. More than 200 food boxes were taken to various apartment complexes around town.
"The people that we delivered to today were just really grateful," said Sue Reamsnyder, CEO of Volunteers of America Northwest Ohio.
Many of the volunteers are residents at Crossroads or Serenity House, said Carol Solis, director of Serenity House.
"We really depend on them," she said. The organizations worked on the program since August.
On the other side of town, volunteers played Santa for children whose families couldn't afford presents this year.
The Volunteers of America Northwest Ohio distributed more than 750 toys, from action figures to board games to bicycles, that were donated by community members and the Toys for Tots program.
According to the Ohio Department of Development's 2007 Poverty Report, the poverty rate in Ohio had been on the decline from 1993 to 2001, but has consistently risen ever since.
As of 2005, the latest year available, nearly 10 percent Ohio families were living in poverty.
Many area homeless shelters have waiting lists throughout the year to accommodate the growing number of people in need.
To receive the food boxes and toys being distributed, families had to register and meet the USDA income eligibility guidelines. According to the 2007-08 guidelines, a family of four is eligible for assistance if their annual income is $38,203 or less. A single person is eligible if they make $18,889 or less per year.
"It's higher than what you'd expect it to be," said Kim Whaley of Volunteers of America. "Times are tough for a lot of folks. (The toys and food boxes) helps those that are trying to pay their bills."