East Texas food drives not hit by hard economic times.

By Whitney Grunder - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE)- Charitable organizations across the country are struggling to collect enough food, clothing and other donations to continue helping those in need.

Many of the families who normally give, are becoming ones that need help, leaving the charities scrambling this holiday season.

But fortunately that may not be the case here in East Texas.

Once happily employed, some now struggle to feed their families.

"They have panicked. They have to pay the electric bill and their rent, and working with their landlords. But the big thing is they want their kids to eat," said Linda Smelley, executive director of Christian Information Service Center.

CISC has been feeding people for 27 years. But this year is different.

"In February we fed 7,000 people a few months ago. This month, 13,068," said Smelley.

To help the growing need the Pinecrest Retirement Community has teamed up with local organizations for Helping Hands Across America, a national 24 hour food drive.

"Our residents have rallied together and donated food, donated money. And they have been so gracious," said Karen Lazarine, social director of Pinecrest Independent Living Residence.

"We're in East Texas and these people give from the heart all the time," said Charles Wandall, general manager of Pinecrest Sodexo.

The donations from today's drive will go to CISC which means more meals for the hungry. Families who come to CISC weekly can enjoy a complete thanksgiving meal. And thanks to the generosity from within the community.

More than 1,000 meals have been donated but it still may not be enough to feed everyone there are 500 people on a waiting list, hoping for a thanksgiving meal.

"I just don't know this year. I think there will be families that are really suffering to the point where they're eating a lot less," said Smelley.

It's a struggle local organizations like CISC are working to overcome every day with the help of east Texans who continue to give.

Due to the growing number of people in need, CISC also needs more volunteers to help, by working the longer hours needed to feed everyone.

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