Homeless need extends beyond Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving isn't the only day they need to worry about. It's tomorrow. And the next day.

If you ever volunteer at a food kitchen, you'll probably experience an emotional duality that seems inescapable. On the one hand, you'll be unsettled by how long the line is and how hungry a lot of the folks in the line are. But you'll also be uplifted by the good-will that permeates the room.

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Silvia Wiggins, director of the Helping Hand Mission in Raleigh, sees it every day.
"We've actually had people come back and get three plates. But I understand why. Because sometimes it'll be a meal that they won't get any more," she said.

Wiggins has been dishing up Thanksgiving plates for the past 18 years. This year, her staff tells us Helping Hand served 400-500 meals.

But here to is a duality.

Just as Wiggins' team and all the volunteers who made the day possible will tell you they're thrilled to have been part of such an effort, they will also - to the person - say they'd rather there not be such great need.

What's more, they know that Thanksgiving isn't a day they need to worry about. It's tomorrow. And the next day.

"You know, there's next week and the week after," said Wiggins, "and sometimes it looks dismal to us because we don't have the means or the volunteer support or we don't have the food to pass out. This is needed every single day. I mean, the war goes on; the food war goes on."

And that's something folks eating at Helping Hand know all too well.

"I'm going to eat when I can because I never know when I'm actually going to need this," said Otis Johnson of Raleigh.

"It's every day," chimed in Samuel Briggs, also from Raleigh. "If I don't get something to eat today, it discourages me from where I'm going to get something to eat tomorrow. And then you gotta think about, 'Am I going to get something the next day?' Then you go a couple days without eating anything and..."

Briggs trailed off.

"It changes things?" asked ABC11 reporter Jon Camp.

"It changes a lot of things," said Briggs.

That's why Wiggins wants to remind people who can donate just how important their help is. "This is the kickoff," she said. "And we need to, from here to next year, provide. If you've got a lot of food in your closet or in your pantry, bag it up and let somebody use it."
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