While many this holiday season are shopping to get the best gift, others in Utah County are struggling to get by with food and other necessities.
Fortunately, people in the community are fighting the poverty.
For seven hours a day, Jim Lawson rings his bell. You might pass him entering Wal-Mart or see his kettle in front of the store. Jim is a Salvation Army bell ringer.
The Salvation Army’s kettles raise enough money each year during the holidays to fund seventy percent of their programs which provide relief and assistance to the needy.
“I just hope it will give somebody another start, a second chance,” Lawson said.
He knows from personal experience what it’s like to need a fresh start. “I’ve been homeless before,” Lawson said.
And he isn’t the only one who has struggled financially.
According to the 2010 Census report, from 2000 to 2010, the number of people living in poverty in the United States, Utah and Utah County increased dramatically. Utah County more than doubled, increasing from 34,205 to 74,539 people. That’s enough to fill Lavell Edwards Stadium and half of BYU’s Marriott Center.
In addition to the Salvation Army and others, Community Action Services and Food Bank is also fighting poverty. “Our goal is to help individuals, families and communities in achieving self-reliance,” Food Bank manager Dave Smith said.
Part of accomplishing their mission is assisting the hungry and doing it as effectively as they can.
“With one dollar, we are able to turn that into approximately seventeen pounds of food,” Smith said.
That food will feed the hungry this holiday season, along with Jim’s bell and kettle.
“It’s hard, trying to figure out how you’re going to get it, what you’re going to do,” says Lawson.
It may be hard for Jim, but that won’t stop him from ringing his bell.
To donate to Community Action Services and Foodbank, go to http://communityactionprovo.org/
To donate to the Salvation Army, go to https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/