Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thousands of Working Poor, Homeless to Enjoy Hosea Feed the Hungry's 40th Anniversary Thanksgiving Festival of Services Nov. 26

/PRNewswire/ -- On Thursday, Nov. 26, the doors of Turner Field will open up to approximately 30,000 working poor and homeless people in the Atlanta area as Hosea Feed the Hungry and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, in association with The Braves Foundation, host the largest one-day sit-down dinner and meals on wheels operation in the nation - the 40th Anniversary Thanksgiving Festival of Services. In addition to serving increased numbers of working poor clients, approximately 20,000 to 25,000 people are homeless in Atlanta, many of whom are expected to participate in this year's Festival. Up to a staggering 60 percent of those individuals are children.

Guests will not only enjoy a hot, home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, but they also will have access to a medical clinic, clothing center, barber and beautician services, entertainment and church services. Because of its focus on youth, HFTH has also created a kids corner where children can enjoy the same services that are being offered to adults. Additionally, HFTH partnered with the Georgia Coastal Southern Christian Leadership Conference to host the first holiday festival in Savannah on Nov. 23.

"Every year, our holiday dinners, which are now being replicated in other cities, represent the hard work of thousands of volunteers who make this happen for the needy in Greater Atlanta," said Elisabeth Omilami, HFTH's executive director. "Because of the economy, rising unemployment rates and the recent September floods around Atlanta, HFTH is serving increased numbers of clients throughout the year who tell us they can't believe they are in our lines. We are dedicated to restoring dignity and stability to all the individuals and families who seek our assistance, but we need the community's continued support."

This holiday dinner season and long into 2010, HFTH expects to feed the needs of up to 250,000 individuals worldwide, an increase of more than 55 percent over last year. Because of the economy, corporate and individual contributions are down 35 percent, while monthly calls for help with human services are up a staggering 45 percent. HFTH is experiencing the largest increase in clients in the history of the organization. Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 24, 2008, it helped approximately 5,370 individuals with the human services it provides every day like rent assistance, help to pay utilities, food boxes, counseling, employment services and help finding temporary housing. During the same period in 2009, more than 6,600 walked through HFTH's doors and received services.

"We are not waiting or depending on those corporations who will not help us, or the government to rescue us," added Omilami. "We are inviting the community, the city, the state - all of our partners to rally together so that we can start rescuing ourselves now and to start preparing for future challenges now."

Embracing the future

HFTH operates on an annual budget of $1.5 million but needs $3.5 million to keep up with the growing numbers of families and individuals who need its help, and only 20 percent of that is administrative. All other funding goes directly to client services.

The Atlanta-based nonprofit subsists solely on financial and material donations from corporations and individuals. While HFTH is ready to meet the challenges in the New Year, it also needs the community to contribute more than ever to its cause.

"Beginning this year, everything we do must be geared towards transforming the economic and physical lives of the people we serve," Omilami said. "From the creation of our new Case Management Department to developing our housing component, HFTH is re-defining our mission."

Additionally, HFTH is connecting with the community more than ever by embracing technology to make it easier for people to receive vital information on its needs and to make financial contributions. These include:

-- Texting HFTH (space) (personal e-mail address) to 69302 to
automatically be added to HFTH's database to receive up-to-date
-- Going to Shop.hoseafeedthehungry.com e-commerce site to make food
purchases, support various services or to buy HFTH merchandise
-- Following Hosea Feed the Hungry on Facebook and Twitter

HFTH's valued community partners will ensure that it continues serving those in need for another 40 years. Everyone can make a difference in helping those in need, no matter how large or small a contribution.

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