Organizations Lean On One Another During Tough Times

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TOPEKA, Kan. - As the holidays approach, tough economic times may make it difficult for many to celebrate with big dinners and gifts. Organizations like the Topeka Rescue Mission are lending a hand.

It's also helping some other agencies who've found themselves caught up in tough financial situations. Some community organizations have suffered because of government cuts in budgets or because donors simply can't afford to give as much as they have in the past.

Executive Director of the mission, Barry Feaker, said Topeka has already cut some social service funding from city money. "While we don't take any kind of government funds here, we are affected by other organizations that can't keep doing what they were doing and people will then turn to us," Feaker said.

Despite some extra mouths to feed or people to find a bed for, Feaker says the mission is still in good shape, but preparing for the economic situation to get worse before it gets better.

"I think everybody's kind of challenged right now. Whether they have directly been affected by loss of income or whatever the case," Feaker said, "I would say to our community - which has been a generous community - hang onto that thought of trying to help people out in need because a time is coming that there will probably be more folks and not everybody's going to be able to help like they used to."

Some things Feaker has heard from other agencies across the nation are that things are "getting pretty drastic."

"A lot of times homeless are either in a shelter or they're somewhere where they're not wanted," said Feaker. "Some of our communities around the country now are starting to recognize an increase and they are starting to promote and authorize the homeless to be in places that would not normally be considered shelter."

Jobs cuts and the down housing market have had an impact on shelters across the nation.

"Definitely reports that we're getting of people living in cars and opening up the parking area are reportedly related to people losing their houses," said Feaker.

In Kansas, the economic times don't seem to be as rough as they are on the coasts. "Mainly what we've seen locally is there's an increase of people in trouble with utilities- not enough funds to be able to pay their electrical, gas and water," Feaker said. "As our other agencies are strapped, they ask the Rescue Mission as well, 'Can you help out?' So we've seen a remarkable increase in that."

"It is a time in our nation's history as well as our community that we are seeing people that are stretched and we know that people who've been able to give before are possibly not able to give now," Feaker said. "When that happens, services will be reduced if not stopped unless those that are able go ahead and give a little bit more."

The Mission serves dinner every evening and will serve a 4:15 Thanksgiving dinner. Feaker expects about 300 people.

The Mission is anticipating a significant increase in the number of families who need help with Christmas. They will be taking donations for the Christmas shop, which is set up with donated toys, clothing, etc. for families in need to shop for their own Christmas items. Feaker said the Mission will also be asking for donations for the Christmas dinner a few weeks before the holiday. Visit for more information on how to help the Mission.