Work continues on the exterior of Good Samaritan Ministries downtown, even as preparations for the crucial holiday season at the interdenominational mission become urgent.

“Thanks to the Shelton Foundation grant and the generosity of our supporters who matched it, we have been able to begin the renovations to the building’s exterior,” Angelia Bostick, executive director, said Monday. “This will allow the whole building to look like one facility. It’s a little difficult to get to us right now, but I hope folks can bear with our mess.”

Meanwhile, the Christmas season is rapidly approaching, and with it comes the additional needs the food bank as well as the clothing room anticipate.

“Cash donations especially but also gifts of food are needed,” Bostick said. “This is the time of year when we need to begin stocking up. The need is great. People are faced with rising fuel costs and it’s especially hard on those on fixed incomes.”

Bostick said Good Samaritan Ministries expects as many as 900 families to request assistance during December. The traditional food package will be enhanced with additional items to prepare a Christmas meal.

The focus of the food bank is more on the Christmas season, Bostick said, rather than Thanksgiving, because people who need a good meal on that day are referred to the Community Feast of Thanksgiving.

“That allows us to focus most on Christmas,” Bostick said.

She said cash donations often allow the food bank to provide greater quantities of food because Good Samaritan can purchase items in bulk at lower prices than individuals can at retail stores. Nevertheless, Bostick said many companies, churches, clubs and organizations often prefer to collect food items as a service project.

“If they want to do that, it’s certainly appreciated,” Bostick said. “We just ask that they contact us first to see what might be needed most. For example, one industry is collecting cake and frosting mixes right now.”

Bostick said she hopes that as the season of giving approaches, area residents will be generous when they think about Good Samaritan Ministries and the families it serves.

“Our donations have been down for several months, by the end of the year we hope to have money available to keep us going through the first few months of 2008,” Bostick said. “Those can be difficult months for a lot of people. The need is there throughout the year, not just at Christmas.”