LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - From rescue missions to the Salvation Army, the need is great, but a down economy is making it tougher for them to meet those needs. They are now counting on the generosity of East Texans to help make sure none of their missions go unfinished.
"I've drove by here 100 times and I have never looked over here, and now I find myself standing in the parking lot," said Chance Clark.
For Clark, the Highway 80 Rescue Mission gives him a second chance.
"I'm very thankful because without these guys, I wouldn't have this food right now or a place to live, you know, and it's cold out there," he said.
Clark was down on his luck and lost his job.
"I was really at the breaking point, you know," said Clark. "I got a 5-year-old and 8-year-old. I don't know what I'm going to do."
And, Clark isn't alone.
"I think the biggest thing I see now is the diversity of who we help," said Eric Burger, the executive director of Highway 80 Rescue Mission.
His current mission is to get toys for hundreds of needy children.
"It makes me feel a little nervous because we got nine toys in the warehouse right now that have come in so far," said Burger.
That's because this year, the Rescue Mission is seeing 200 more families than in 2008. The Tyler Salvation Army is seeing a 50 percent increase from last year. While the Longview Salvation Army is seeing 400 more people. And, PATH in Tyler is seeing the biggest increase, with more than 2,000 families asking for help.
"It's better to help those people that are here because, what happens if you're there?" said Jody Samford, who lost his job for two months. "Your going to want those people to help you."
And, that help is desperately needed this holiday.
"We'll be serving 2,000 meals," said Burger. "Hams, turkey's, yams, any of those things we're in great need. If you can't give financially. You can come and you can sort gifts. We're just going to trust the Lord that what we need we'll have when we need it."