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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) – People across the country are flocking to the Salvation Army for help during the holidays. They come not only for a hot meal or a stay, but also for help with utility bills and rent.

Kavon Phillips, commander of the Salvation Army in Lufkin, said they have three times more requests than they have ever had since the Salvation Army came to town in the 1950s.

“People are having a hard time right now,” Phillips said. “They’re trying to hang on to what they’ve got.”

Phillips believes the record number of requests for rental assistance is partly due to three things: rental freezes at the height of the pandemic, job losses and inflation.

“The thing is, people are just in need, and we’re doing everything we can to help them with the financial needs we have,” Phillips said.

But according to Phillips, funding is running out fast.

“As soon as the money comes in, it’s gone almost as fast as it comes in,” Phillips said.

In addition to record high requests for help, the Salvation Army is also seeing fewer donations this year than in years past, causing the waiting list for people in need to grow to about 30 families.

“Donors who have supported us throughout the year are not giving as much as they have in the past,” Phillips said.

Their goal for the Red Kettle program was $75,000, and they are $3,200 less than last year.

Funding through regular donors has taken an even bigger hit. The Salvation Army raised $125,000 last year. This year, those donations dropped by $43,000.

Phillips said despite the reduced numbers, she still hopes they will reach their goals and be able to help as many people as possible.

“We know times are tough,” Phillips said. “They are difficult for everyone and our doors are open most of the year for people to get help.”

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