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Struggling families thankful for help
Helping Hands volunteer Don Liggett, right, helps carry out a turkey and food box. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Jerry Walker knows all too well how a bad economy can affect one’s livelihood.

Wearing a warm winter coat and standing close to his wife Loretta, Walker joined more than a hundred other people to line up outside of Cornerstone Community Church on Comconex Road to get a full Thanksgiving dinner that he could enjoy with his family next week.

It was just recently that his hours as a Goodwill attendant were sliced virtually in half as a family on a fixed income with five kids living in the household it would have been impossible to go out and buy all of the necessary fixings to make a Thanksgiving meal possible.

He’s still trying to figure out what they’re going to do when Christmas rolls around.

“It makes it really difficult when you’re living on a fixed income and you don’t have anywhere else to go,” he said. “I think that it’s great that there are churches that do this. We used to be a part of the people who were handing out the turkeys at our old church, and now we’re here to get one.

“That just shows how quickly things can change.”

And Walker wasn’t the only one there who had unforeseen economic consequences take him from being completely independent to having to ask for help.

While Benny Arnold was all smiles and laughs with those who were standing in line, there was a hint of desperation in his voice when openly talked about his inability to find work and how he’d take any job that somebody offered him.

A former truck driver, Arnold hasn’t worked for more than a year and says he has put in applications at just about every business in the area that says that they’re hiring.

But even with all of the things going on in his world that would drag most people down, he remains upbeat and optimistic and shows a great deal of gratitude to organizations like Cornerstone Community Church that lend a helping hand to those that need it.

“This is a really big help because people in this town know you can come down to places like this and get the help that you need,” Arnold said. “God has blessed all of us with the opportunity to be here today and to have people like this church congregation that go out of their way to help people like us. I’m looking forward to sitting down with my wife and enjoying a good Thanksgiving dinner.”

While volunteers ushering out boxes of food to the cars of those who had been waiting, Mitzi Filippini stood at the back of the line with her son Gage Smith and waited patiently for her turn.

The longtime fast food worker lost her job in December of 2007 – the official start of the current recession – and has since tried applying to as places as possible to no avail.

“It’s pretty much next to impossible to find a job right now. I put in applications, and never get callbacks, and when I come in and talk to people they tell me I either don’t have enough skills, or I’m overqualified,” she said. “I’m on welfare and I’m still struggling with that. It’s always harder during the holidays, and I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with my son for Christmas.

“I think this a great opportunity to get some help, and I’m grateful that I’m able to be here to get this today.”