Red Lion Area Community Services kept up with local families' winter and holiday needs, but at a cost.

"Our pantry is depleted, and we are in desperate need of resources," Muriel Slenker. "I've been the executive director for seven years, and I've never seen it like this."

The pantry, at 15 First Ave., needs immediate donations of canned goods, including vegetables, fruit and soups, as well as dry soups, spaghetti and other pasta. The agency also needs fresh produce, eggs, dairy products, breads and pastries, Slenker said.

The organization is collecting toiletry, hygiene and household paper items as well, she said.

"Anything that a family would want in their pantry is what we need in our pantry," Slenker said.

The Red Lion organization, now in its 40th year, provides food and emergency household assistance to people in need, as well as life skills, budget and nutrition training.

The organization also distributes hats, coats and blankets for the fall and winter months, as well as school supplies for children.

Pantry: The pantry serves 200 households a month. About 175 of them are clients. The other households are walk-ins or are in need of emergency assistance, Slenker said.

A "Bags of Blessings" program is done annually for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, to provide families with turkeys, hams, dessert and stuffing mixes and potatoes " to help make their holiday meals a little festive," Slenker said.

For the recent Easter Bags of Blessings, the families received their typical food supply and the extra items for their holiday dinners.

Harsh winter: While the organization was able to assist the families, the pantry's resources were already low because of the harsh winter, Slenker said.

Local churches and organizations that annually provide consistent support — through donation collections and food drives — could not hold as many of those events because of the cold, snow and other inclement weather conditions, she said.

Thus, the donations slowed, while families' needs increased, Slenker said.

— Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at