Tulsa working families need help

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Updated: 12/12/2012 10:17 am
They are just like everyone else, they punch the clock at work, every day and they still can't get ahead.

Sometimes families have two incomes yet they struggle. The Community Food Bank said it's happening more and more.

Here's another problem: the donations they're getting aren't exactly what folks need to survive.

The Richins share something with several families. Something that is likely not thought about as they decorate their Christmas tree. Right now the only thing missing are gifts.

All four of the family’s kids are counting down to December 25, but not these parents. Rebecca Richins said the struggle started when her husband George was laid off.

"We did unemployment for a while," said Rebecca Richins.

Eventually, that ran out. At that point, the only income they had was Rebecca's teaching salary. George took whatever work he could. At one point, he worked four jobs.

"I worked at Build A Bear," said George Richins.

All of it took aim at their pride; their lowest point was requesting food stamps.

"Oklahoma ranks fifth as far as food insecurity,” said Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma Executive Director, Eileen Bradshaw.

Bradshaw said more working families are showing up at food banks.

"Our state's economic wellbeing rests upon our youth, to be a sharp workforce," said Bradshaw.

Bradshaw said food bank shelves are filled with plenty of donations, but folks don't always give what's needed or wanted.

"If my kids don't want to eat it, we don't give it to the food drive," said Bradshaw.

Healthier food is what's needed: foods filled with protein, and canned goods. Something many kids only get at school.

"Its unfortunate we can't do more, for more kids," said TPS Spokesman, Corbin Anderson.

Anderson said more kids depend on free and reduced lunch this year. Of the 40,000 students in the district 85 percent of them need help.

"Well fed kids are better learned kids," said Anderson.

"She supports me and I support her," said George Richins.

George has enrolled in classes at OSU-Tulsa. Graduation is the long-term goal. He has about a year-and- a half of schooling left.

Meantime, there are other expectations.

"We have one or two toys that are new to them. Everything else is second handed,” said George Richins.

The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma has a campaign to raise $10,000 by January 31. The George Kaiser Foundation will match donations from first time donors, well as increased contributions from anyone who adds to a previous donation.

Every dollar donated provides five meals for families.
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