Holiday Helpers Keep Shelves Stocked For Those In Need

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DES MOINES, Iowa– Iowa’s largest homeless shelter and one of the state’s busiest food pantries are asking folks to add a few things to their Christmas shopping lists.

“Right now is our busiest time of year. We have probably almost 100 people in overflow every night just because the weather is so cold,” said Jordan Johnson at Central Iowa Shelter & Services.

Last night, more than 300 people came in off the streets to get out of the cold. That has the shelter running low on essential supplies, things like disposable razors, shampoo, soap, socks and underwear. As donations come in, volunteers are wrapping gift boxes for people coming in off the streets.

“It’s like holiday central in there. All the wrapping and the working. It’s organized chaos, but it’s really something special,” said Johnson.

Around Christmas time, the Des Moines Area Religious Council’s Red Barrels can be filled to the brim with donated food. Stores like Hy-Vee put together bags of food that can be bought and dropped off into the barrels.

“Thankful, I wish it could be like that year round,” said DMARC Food Coordinator John Robinson.

Workers will deliver the items to food pantries in the metro. Robinson says there’s no shortage of hungry mouths to feed.

“November was our largest in our in 40 year history. We served over 18,000 people through our network. The need is increasing,” he said.

From food on the table to a roof over their head, holiday helpers are hard at working trying to keep up with that increased demand this time of year.