Nonprofit officials are catching their breath after a holiday season in which some organizations helped record numbers of people.
Mission Arlington gave toys to 35,000 low-income children through its Christmas Store, the most people it has ever served, said Tillie Burgin, executive director.
Just a few years ago, fewer than 30,000 children were getting toys, she said.
"The holidays were a time of crisis for many, many people this year," Burgin said. "Every family we helped was able to keep that money they would have spent on gifts and use it for rent, bills and food."
Christmas and Thanksgiving programs at GRACE gave away over $60,000 in food during each holiday, increases of more than $10,000 from the 2010 holidays, an official said.
GRACE's Christmas Cottage program, which supplies gifts for qualified families, helped 1,615 children, 400 more than the previous year.
The increases are hardly a surprise, said Mark Woolverton, a GRACE spokesman. The level of need is obvious on the first of every month when people come to the agency for emergency help with rent and utilities.
"The line grows longer every month and has been growing and accelerating all last year," he said.
More seeking help
At Catholic Charities Fort Worth, a moratorium on the arrival of refugees -- mostly due to the closure of government and nonprofit offices during the holidays -- in the last two weeks of December allowed the organization to focus on the seasonal needs of existing clients, said John Machado, director of refugee services.
The organization serves as a distribution site for DFW Metroplex Toys for Tots and saw one-third more families visit the site than the previous year, according to Catholic Charities officials. Overall, Toys for Tots, which serves 14 counties, received 17,000 more toy requests than in 2010.
Some charities faced challenges meeting their clients' needs. Fewer agencies delivered holiday food baskets because the charities couldn't afford the extra food or didn't have enough volunteers to pick it up from the Tarrant Area Food Bank, said Andrea Helms, food bank spokeswoman.
"A growing trend among the older, retired volunteers is that they travel to their children's homes for the holidays rather than the grown children and their families going to grandmother's house," Helms said. "This especially affects the smaller church pantries."
Other organizations found success in social media.
The Cornerstone Assistance Network helped 150 families through its holiday program, which matches low-income families with groups and individuals who buy Christmas gifts for them, CEO Mike Doyle said.
That's about the same number the organization has helped in recent years, he said.
The difference this time was that the organization used social media to pair the families with their donors. It paid off, he said.
"We weren't scrambling around trying to find someone to adopt the last of our families, like we usually are," he said. "We used Facebook and other ways of connecting them. As an older guy, I was a little skeptical how much social media would help, but it really worked well."
Doyle said that although need remains high, so does the public's willingness to help.
"We ended up with more toys than we could give away because we got a bunch come in right before we left for the holidays," Doyle said.
"It was really nice being able to help everyone who needed it."
Alex Branch, 817-390-7689