Rescue Missions Respond to Increased Need

According to a major network of stateside humanitarian aid ministries, the number of needy people served across the country at Christmastime rose significantly this year, with some cities reporting as much as a fourfold increase.

Each year ministries that are a part of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM) serve almost 42 million meals, provide lodging for more than 15 million visitors, give away 27 million-plus pieces of clothing, treat hundreds of abuse victims and help more than 18,000 homeless men and women overcome addictions and transition into more productive living. As 2009 closes, however, even leaders of those ministries have remarked on the rising needs during this holiday season.

"Because of the impact of the economy, homelessness is on the rise," said Donovan Coley, senior pastor of the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Rescue Mission, which served more than four times the usual number of people this Christmas. "We see individuals who aren't homeless, but they're just having a hard time making ends meet. And so that number has also increased."

Besides serving the usual pre-Christmas meals, many rescue missions have continued to offer food throughout the days leading up to New Year's. [, 12/26/09]

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