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Charity worries it won't be able to feed all
Manna House in middle of Thanksgiving drive
jennifer santiago
Manna House volunteer Jennifer Santiago prepares boxes of Thanksgiving food to hand out to the nonprofit organization’s patrons. - photo by Photo by Frenchi Jones
Pick up a basket or donate

  The basket giveaway begins Monday and ends Wednesday, Nov. 26. The organization will distribute 150 baskets per day on a first-come, first-served basis.
   If you would like to make a donation to  Manna House, you can drop off cash or food items from 4-7 tonight at Kroger. Students from Brewton-Parker College will be on-site to accept donations.
Turkey, with no dressing. Who could imagine Thanksgiving without it?
Sixty-five-year-old Virginia Blocker said not only could she imagine it, but she could be living it this Thanksgiving.   
“I wouldn’t have turkey or dressing if I couldn’t come down here,” she said. “This holiday season wouldn’t be the same without the Manna House.”
Blocker and a large shopping bag she sewed for herself have been making weekly visits to Manna House for the past two years. Every Monday and Friday, she fills her bag with needed breads, fruits and vegetables from racks inside the house’s waiting area.
“When you live on a fixed income, you can’t afford to buy those things, you can only afford to pay your bills,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know what I would do. I probably would be like some people, eating out of trash cans.”
For many like Blocker, who receives only $14 in food stamps per month, paying bills and buying groceries has gotten a lot harder with this year’s economic woes — a pinch that Manna House Director Katrina Deason said many working families are feeling this holiday season.
“We’ve seen about a 30 percent increase in our numbers this year, most of them working-poor, and it’s been a challenge,” Deason said. “It’s meant a lot of hitting the pavement, trying to get the help that we need to be able to help them.”
Getting that help has not been easy, but Deason said it has remained constant.
Thanks to a variety of donors, including the non-profit organization Second Harvest and local grocery store chains such as Kroger and Food Lion, Manna House is expected to distribute more than 400 thanksgiving baskets to needy families living in Liberty County this Thanksgiving.
 “I’m sure the local merchants have seen a difference in their bottom line this year, but it hasn’t stopped them from helping,” she said. “They’ve continued to help make sure we can continue to help others, and I really appreciate that.”
“It’s nice to see when local residents still have a giving heart.”
Still, with only a week left to go there is still work to do. 
“Our greatest need right now is stuffing and cranberry sauce and we’ll be taking all the donations we can get,” she said. “We want to make sure that we don’t just give people anything. We want to give them a complete Thanksgiving meal.”
A meal Jennifer Santiago, Manna House volunteer and single mother of three, believes so many will be more than grateful to receive.
“I’ve struggled all my life and they’ve helped me out when I was in need, so I know what it’s like,” she said. “And I know it’s going to be crazy here on Monday.”
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