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At their very core, nonprofit organizations and food cupboards exist only to serve. They are created and established with the sole goal of helping people in need — to provide food, services and support to the most vulnerable in society. Nonprofits and food cupboards depend on the goodness, generosity and kindness of others — those people who have the means to give.

But since March, when the pandemic took hold of the country, the help of those who keep food cupboards stocked and nonprofits running has been diminishing. And with COVID-19 once again strengthening its grip on the region … well, not only are county residents struggling but so are nonprofit organizations and food cupboards.

The pandemic has led to the financial devastation of some folks — folks who just a year ago were celebrating the holidays in typical fashion — decorating, cooking, entertaining, traveling. But this year, with the force of the pandemic upending so many lives, many of those same folks are wondering how they’re going to feed their children.

And now food cupboards and nonprofit organizations are in a very difficult position. Many of the people who found it in their hearts to donate money, food and time to these organizations are now finding themselves in need of those services and support.

Now, during the holiday season, that panic that many people are experiencing is most certainly being compounded.

And food pantries and nonprofit organizations face the formidable task of providing help and services to our vulnerable neighbors when they themselves are struggling.

For this reason, MediaNews Group is introducing the region-wide series “Season of Caring.” The Reporter in Lansdale, The Times Herald in Norristown, The Mercury in Pottstown, Daily Local News in West Chester and Berks-Mont Newspapers in Berks and Montgomery counties are joining forces to introduce readers to various food pantries and nonprofit organizations, and encouraging help from those in position to give — even if it’s just a little.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we will provide stories, information and details for how and where to give in order to stock those food pantry shelves and help those who need it most at a time when all seems so dark.

The series coincides with the Pottstown Mercury's annual holiday giving program Operation Holiday. In recognition of the plights of food pantries, the Operation Holiday foundation will give cash donations to food pantries at the end of the fundraising and giving program.

In a year of hardship, this is a "Season of Caring." Look for our stories on how you can help.

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