HERRIN, IL (KFVS) - It's a shocking number: 49 million Americans live in poverty. It's also a number that's brought more people into shelters and food banks across the Heartland.
When Elsie McClure needs help at the dinner table, she turns the Herrin Community Pantry.
"I don't like to come and have to get food, but if a person needs to eat you can count on the Herrin Community Pantry," McClure said.
Local funds and area churches help keep the shelves stocked with food. But Paula Gosnell with First United Methodist Church says it's become difficult to provide due to cuts in dollars, yet the need continues to rise.
"Some of them have jobs, but it's not enough in order to pay their bills and buy food, a lot of people are laid off and don't have a job and you see old people and the young people," Gosnell said.
Folks who stop by the Herrin Community Pantry also pick up clothes at low cost as well. Not far from these helping hands, is the Williamson County Family Crisis Homeless Shelter. Executive Director Peggy Russell says when it comes to getting assistance you have to rely on yourself.
"Start with one agency and if you don't get the answer there ask for a referral to a name of a different agency," Russell said.
Russell says most of the time there is help out there it's just matter of finding the agency that fits your needs.
For job assistance, Man-Tra-Con in Marion is one of those places that can help. Meanwhile, Crosswalk Community Action Agency in West Frankfort provides assistance with heating bills, depending on your county.
But Russell says before stop by any agency for assistance it's best to call ahead.
"You don't have to be ashamed, you don't have to be afraid," Russell added.
Russell suggests when you do call to set up an appointment, if possible, and ask what items you should bring for the visit.