GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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November 21, 2012

Rise in need seen across the North Shore

The continued rise in requests for holiday dinners and other assistance seen by The Open Door’s Julie LaFontaine this holiday season is hardly limited to Gloucester and Cape Ann across the North Shore.

In other nearby communities, sharing God’s bounty with others has also become an increasing way in which area schools, religious groups and businesses celebrate Thanksgiving.

South Church in Andover wants to get 300 meals for Neighbors in Need in honor of its 300th anniversary of its founding. This is the 21st year the church has conducted the drive led by Morgan and Beth Kiker. Last year, they prepared 241 meals which were distributed to 179 families.

Morgan Kiker said they have collected almost 200 meals so far. That’s a far cry from the six meals they donated from the back of the van when the couple first started. Now they rent a moving van to stack up all the boxes filled with all the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal.

“We certainly feel good. We have a lot that we take for granted and it’s good to help people who would otherwise go without,” Morgan Kiker said.

While it is more difficult with the economic downturn, Morgan Kiker said South Church has always been mission oriented both locally and globally. The Kikers get help from the church’s teenagers, other church members, neighbors and friends.

“Compared to some, we have plenty, so let’s share it,” said Morgan Kiker, a member of South Church for 39 years.

In Gloucester, LaFontaine noted that, as of Tuesday, The Open Door had already distributed 921 Thanksgiving meals– more than the roughly 900 the Emerson Avenue facility turned around during last year’s Thanksgiving time. And The Open Door remained open for distributing meals until 5 p.m. on Wednesday’s eve of the holiday.

“We’re definitely seeing an uptick in requests for holiday assistance,” LaFontaine told the Times Tuesday. “Let’s face it,” she said. “There’s more and more of a gap between what someone makes, and what it takes to live.”

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