Demand for Clothing, Food on the Rise

The official start of winter still may be weeks away, but already thousands across the nation are in need of coats for the season.

This year more than ever, the charities that provide winter-weather gear find themselves in need of more donations because of the demand for coats. But it's not just clothing requests that have risen, shelter and food needs have increased, too.

"We have people in need from every walk of life coming for the coats," said Dr. Chantal St. Phard, of Word in Action International Ministries in Philadelphia, which provides urban outreach with services like feeding and clothing the poor.

On the East Coast, ministries and missions have said the need for more resources has increased.

"There has been an increase recently. In October, we served 1,941 meals and sheltered 51 people," said Dr. Paul E. McLaughlin, of Hope Haven Gospel Mission in Lewiston, Maine. "We had to turn away 17 people for shelter because our shelter was full."

"At Hudson River Housing, located in Dutchess County, N.Y., we have seen a 175 percent increase from this time last year in the number of beds filled each night in our emergency overnight shelter," said Gail V. Webster, of Hudson River Housing in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. "Many of these families will find themselves without the resources they need to provide basic necessities for their families, and some may be left homeless."

But it's not just the Eastern Seaboard seeing increased need.

"We were serving 500 families per week until about six months ago. We are now serving between 800 and 900 families each week," said Linda Williams, of With Love From Jesus Ministries in Raleigh, N.C.

"Since 2008 started we have seen the number of people coming in increase by 44 percent from 450 families per week to 650 families, and it is continuing to increase," said Paul J. Haagsman, of In the Image in Grand Rapids, Mich., which last year distributed more than 8,000 winter coats.

These organizations and several others now are participating in "Good Morning America's" Warm Coats, Warm Hearts drive. Click here to find out how you can donate a winter coat to those in need.

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