Charity donates Christmas baskets to dozens of south MS families

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Dozens of south Mississippi families will enjoy a nice Christmas dinner thanks to a non-profit agency. Back Bay Mission handed out food baskets in Biloxi on Thursday. Charity officials say with the economy the way it is, the need has increased, but the resources to help those who are struggling are fewer.

Rhonda Scott got a head start munching on what is to be her Christmas dinner. She said without a food basket there wouldn't be much of a Christmas dinner.

"I wouldn't have anything much," said Scott. "I'm on fixed income, disabled."

Back Bay Mission filled the baskets with fruits, cereals, vegetables and other goodies. There were turkeys for large families and hams for small ones.

Jill Cartledge is the Emergency Assistance Coordinator.

"When we did the two days of sign-up, we had people lined up around our building," Cartledge said. We served every single one of them that signed up. We've had people coming in in dribs and drabs asking for the baskets. Unfortunately the sign up is over. We already had the families that we're doing it for this year but nonetheless, it felt bad to say no."

Last year, Back Bay gave out 218 baskets. This year, because of budget cuts, officials say they're giving out 150 baskets.  They say a lot of new faces are asking for help.

"We have had a tremendous increase of people coming to us this year," said Cartledge. "We, in looking at the stats for the whole 2009, were just amazed at the amount of people that we've served. We're seeing people who have never had to come and ask for help before. People that are finding themselves homeless, without jobs and have come to Back Bay Mission as their last bastion of hope."

Rhonda Scott said the hope she's come to appreciate is given not just at Christmas.

"They also helped me out in the earlier part of the year," said Scott. "When I was moving to my apartment, they helped me out with my deposit. That was a great help. That was $250 that I didn't have."

Back Bay Mission officials said the charity bought some of the groceries and some food was donated. In fact, two casinos donated the turkeys.

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