Charities across the U.S. are seeing the biggest drop in donations in two decades, even as more people are in need of help than ever before.
That disturbing fact was apparent at a Salvation Army facility in Florida recently, where hundreds of needy residents lined up at 4:30 a.m. in the morning. Some were hoping for a holiday turkey, while others sought toys to put under the Christmas tree for their children.
Thousands were expected to arrive that day alone.
"That's less than 10 percent of the need, and that's very difficult when we have so many people looking for help that we can't provide," Salvation Army Major Andrew Kelly said.
Last year, charitable giving plummeted 11 percent. Meanwhile, at one of the biggest food charities in the country, Food for the Poor, donations are down 27 percent.
With high unemployment persisting, many non-profits have been forced to work over-time.
Martha Gorman's church-based charity Ghent Area Ministries in Norfolk, Va., helped 700 more clients this year than last. Food bag requests tripled.
Gorman said the problem is not just job loss but fewer hours and benefits.
"I have so many people come in the door and say 'I'm $2 over the limit for food stamps' and you think -- what?' And they have a family of four or five to feed," Gorman said.
With so many people out of work, ministries and non-profits are also struggling to stay afloat in a tough economy. If matters don't improve soon, many charities may have to close their doors.
So, how can you extend a helping hand to others while improving your own financial situation?
Financial expert Dave Ramsey, host of the Dave Ramsey Show, has taught thousands of people how to live debt-free and experience the miracle of giving. He offerred practical and spiritual tips everyone should know about giving on The 700 Club, Dec. 17. Click play to watch the interview.