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Need for food banks grows this holiday season in Schuylkill County

Food banks across northeastern Pennsylvania are seeing more people than ever this holiday season.

SHENANDOAH, Pa. — Lines seem to be a part of the daily routine at the Beverly Mattson Memorial Food Bank in Shenandoah.

Denise Gehrman, the assistant director of the food bank, says several people from across Schuylkill County are traveling to get what they need for a Thanksgiving meal.

In fact, families must reserve their turkeys in advance.

"Last year, I offered 175 turkeys. This year, we've almost doubled that between the amount of turkeys, plus on top of that, all the chickens and the TV dinners that are offered," said Gehrman.

The food bank is consistently adding 40 new families a month to its food distribution list. So now, Gehrman is trying to prepare for an even bigger crowd for Christmas.

"I think December is going to be one of our roughest months trying to fill the need for this county. I already have people funneling in for the holiday boxes for December already," she added.

After receiving her own boxes of free food, Linda Shearer recently started volunteering as a thank-you to the Beverly Mattson Memorial Food Bank. 

"She just kept on giving me and giving me and giving me until I said, that's enough," she said.

Shearer encourages others to join the cause and help pack 500 holiday boxes needed to feed families in December.

"I volunteer here because she helps me also more than enough," Shearer added.

Gehrman says inflation is causing more clients to flock to the food bank for their holiday meals, and it's putting a strain on the food bank itself.

"The astronomical operating costs are really intense, especially with inflation now. The inflation you guys are seeing, we're seeing it even harder," she said.

If you would like to help the Beverly Mattson Memorial Food Bank during the holiday season, they are asking for donations and looking for volunteers.

Checks can be made payable to J.W. Cooper Community Center, or you can donate through PayPal by sending money to kent@steinmetzjewelers.com.

Anyone interested in volunteering can reach out to Denise Gehrman through the Beverly Mattson Memorial Food Bank Facebook Page or by calling 570-527-8626.

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