WESTLAKE, LA (KPLC) – Every day there is more bad economic news.
On Monday, a Department of Agriculture report says 1 in 7 Americans are struggling to find food, a record number.
The fragile economy is also starting to affect Southwest Louisiana, as more families find themselves left with little choice but to accept charitable contributions for the upcoming holiday season.
Yulanda Parker is part of one of the 500 families who will take advantage of KPLC's Community Christmas this week. Parker has not been laid off, however she is working fewer hours and bringing home fewer dollars, making normal things like preparing for the holidays an arduous task.
"Times [have] been hard for me and my family," Parker said. "Lately, I've been focused a lot with catching up on bills and I really want my kids to have a special Christmas."
Parker's son wrote sponsors of KPLC's Community Christmas a letter, asking them to help his family, especially his younger siblings, anyway they could.
The letter reads in part, "Right now my family is going through some rough times due to the poor economy and expensive bills to pay. I am just kindly writing a wish list to you and hoping to have a very Merry Christmas with your help and generous donations. I think you will help my family have the best Christmas ever."
Becki Derise with the SWLA American Red Cross, a sponsor for KPLC's Community Christmas, says the troubling economy has brought in new faces seeking assistance for the holidays.
Derise says Community Christmas is reaching its quota much faster this year than last year. In fact, it takes only 90 minutes before organizers have to inform people they'll need to come back the next morning.
Derise says lines are forming outside the building as early as 6:00 AM.
To apply for assistance, show up at Managan Gym at 9 A.M. (or earlier) located at the corner of McKinley and Sampson Street in Westlake.
Bring proof of income, residence, food stamp sheets, Social Security Cards, and Driver's License or picture I.D.
Sponsors also ask applicants to bring in their children's wish list.