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The New Needy

Valleytown Baptist Church in Andrews, North Carolina, can handle an occasional request for financial assistance. They're used to supplying food coupons, clothing for children, or medicine to the needy. This assistance is funded by the church's monthly special offering. But pastor Ron McClure believes tougher times are ahead, as he gazes from the church's front porch across the street toward another company suffering massive layoffs.

What is a pastor to do in a town where over one-third of the workforce has lost jobs due to the declining economy?

Until recently, compassion ministries usually reached out to homeless individuals who required only a hot meal and some bus tokens. Now benevolence has taken on a new look. Today's needy are clean-shaven and often educated, but still in need of help.

Mass layoffs have increased in the past 18 months. The total layoff events for 2001, at 21,345, and the total number of initial claimants, at 2,496,784, were about 25 percent higher than the previous ...

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