is bustling with a steady stream of clients who are swamping the food and service provider in a still mired economy.
In October, 450 more clients than the average 2,000 showed up for food, help with medical bills or utilities or other needs.
Luckily, local organizations have stepped up to help in the holiday charity rush.
The San Clemente Patch email inbox is filled with press releases about the Rotary club, high school students or the city holding a holiday benefit for a myriad of organizations, and it seems as if Family Assistance Ministries is always on the list.
“The whole community is in this together,” said Mary Perdue, FAM’s executive director. “Last fiscal year, we had $2 million in redistributed groceries and $90,000 in client aid.”
Still, funds are the main necessity for the organization trying to stand against the tidal wave of poverty the Great Recession has caused. FAM deals in the prevention of homelessness, helping to pay utilities, medical bills, rent, motel fees and other necessities to keep families off the street.
“Last year, the $90,000 in cash aid we gave out, we had at least double that in requests for funds,” Perdue said. “It did increase after the [2008 market] crash. It continues to increase.”
So what's the one, best thing you can do to help?
"Funds, actually," Perdue said. "Funds help us—we can get food less expensive... It helps us have options."
A couple refrigerators and freezers would help, too, she said.
Right now, FAM is signing up volunteers to adopt families for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Donors can pick a family who signed up for the program and buy them Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner and/or Christmas presents.
Marine Sgt. Barry Reeves has taken advantage of the program—he has to drive his wife and six kids and all their belongings to his mother-in-law's in Oregon as he prepares to return to Afghanistan in February. Reeves said the help with holiday expenses is a boon to the family as they save up for gasoline, a U-Haul and other expenses.
"It's great," he said. "I feel like some peole don't appreciate what we do, but a lot of people do. Obviously that helps out with expenses."
If you want to donate, volunteer or adopt a family, call FAM at 949-492-8477, email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the offices and warehouse at 929 Calle Negocio.