SCRANTON, Pa. -- This week is National Salvation Army week and though it's a celebration, Salvation Army volunteers in Scranton say they're still hard at work handling a newly expanded food pantry program.
A few Thursdays a month, volunteers get to work early unloading lots and lots of food at the Salvation Army on South Washington Avenue in Scranton. They know early, too, that their efforts are worth it.
"There's people already lined up outside for their food, and this goes on twice a month," Mary Price said.
On this Thursday, Billie Joe Cornfield of Scranton was first in line for the food giveaway. She's noticed that line behind her growing from month to month.
"With my husband and our boys, it supplements what we get from public assistance, food stamps, and everything. It doesn't help with anything," Cornfield said.
This giveaway used to be just once a month but last year, organizers added a second day.
"The need in northeastern Pennsylvania is pretty great, and we have the provision to do it, so we figured why not?" said volunteer Steve Oaten.
Now, twice a month the Salvation Army feeds between 200 and 300 families.
"One could be tempted to look at the numbers, and the numbers definitely support it, because those are growing, but you look at the faces of the children, the mothers, grandmothers, the fathers that are struggling to make ends meet, and you see that the help is truly needed," said Salvation Army Major Robert Schmig.
The Salvation Army sends everyone home with enough food to fill an entire shopping cart and for families with children, heading into summer vacation soon, that can make all the difference.
Melissa Miller says it's even tougher to make ends meet in the summertime so giveaways like this one are essential.
"I find a way, even if I don't have gas or whatever, I definitely find a way," Miller said.
And the Salvation Army says it will find a way to fill carts for as long as it can.
"I really appreciate this," Cornfield added. "It helps a lot."