By Craig Day, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- The rising jobless rate is causing a dramatic increase in the number of people who need help in Oklahoma. Food pantries and other charitable agencies are seeing more people in need all across northeast Oklahoma. That includes the Salvation Army in Tulsa.
At the Salvation Army Center of Hope in downtown Tulsa, everyday workers see the toll the struggling economy is taking. And, every day it's getting worse.
"Layoff, or reduction in hours, if they find another job it's at a lower pay rate," said Center of Hope Executive Director Arletta Robinson.
About 800 meals a day are served from the center's kitchen and the number is growing. The charity has seen a 21% increase in meals served in the first two months of this year, over January and February of 2008.
"It surprised me how the increase has happened so quickly," said Center of Hope Executive Director Arletta Robinson.
She says she hasn't seen such a significant jump in need in 23 years on the job.
Not only is the Salvation Army seeing an increase in the number of meals served, there are also other indications of the struggling economy. A 25% increase in the number of people spending the night at the shelter, and a 23% increase in the number of people asking for utility assistance. Of those, 70% are asking for help for the first time.
"To have 70% of the folks we're helping be the first time they are coming in for assistance, that says a lot about our economy," said Center of Hope Executive Director Arletta Robinson.
It's anticipated the need for help will grow even more until the economy rebounds, and more people return to work and get back on their feet again.
If you need help right now, you can get more information about services provided by the Salvation Army by calling 918-582-7201. The number is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.