Manna Ministries Christmas Gift Drive Falling Short 

Catherine Pegram

A local drive to help families in need during the holidays is only half-way to its goal.The folks at Manna Ministries in Bangor are trying to fill at least 800 wishes, with Christmas just about a week away. As workers sort through piles of clothes and tables of toys, they know the need for them this year is greater than ever. Executive Director Bill Rae says people who used to be on the giving end of this Christmas gift drive are now asking to receive. “They’re having to come here and ask for specific things that last year, they had and that’s really heartbreaking, but they’re doing it.”Rae says at the same time, fewer people are donating – and collections are down about $2,500 from this time last year. A Tree of Hope at the Bangor Mall is covered with wishes, waiting to be filled. Mark Rae says, “We have about three hundred families who’ve signed up and we’re almost maybe half way there. But time’s getting short, so we’re looking for as much help as we can get.”Bill Rae says at least 50 more families are asking for assistance this year – and many of their requests are for basic necessities.”You’re talking coats, all sizes, sweatshirts, crock pots are a big thing this year because it’s cheaper to cook with them and you can use them in a small apartment and save money, shoes, all sizes, boots.”Rae knows the next week or so will be a challenge. But he’s confident, with the help of the community, it can be done.”We’re not going to make a promise to somebody unless we can keep it. We’re not going to promise a coat unless we can give them a coat – so people let’s not go back on our word when we say we’re going to help our neighbors this year.”If you’d like to help Manna Ministries meet it’s gift-giving goal, stop by the Tree of Hope, outside JC Penney at the Bangor Mall, from 10 a.m. to closing.You can also drop off or send a donation to Manna Ministries at 629 Main Street in Bangor, 04401.