The Season of Giving: Helping those in need have happier holidays, November/December 2017 Cape Cod LIFE | capecodlife.com

Children’s gift bags by the Red Stocking Fund on Martha’s Vineyard awaiting distribution.

Summer visitors think of Cape Cod and the Islands as the land of plenty—lots of great restaurants, a vibrant arts scene, endless natural beauty. But year-rounders know there is another side to the Cape, where the cost of living is higher than in other locales and too many jobs don’t pay enough to make ends meet.

Fortunately, folks on the Cape and Islands are resourceful, compassionate and generous, especially around the holidays. This time of year is a busy season for organizations dedicated to helping local residents through tough times. Those organizations count on the community to help ensure happier holidays for everyone, whatever challenges they may be facing.

The Lower Cape Outreach Council, an Orleans-based nonprofit founded in 1980, provides emergency help to those experiencing economic hardship. Volunteer caseworkers work with clients to determine what kind of assistance will make the most difference. It may be an oil delivery, help with a mortgage payment, covering a car repair, paying a medical expense or some other form of help. The organization also runs food pantries in each of the eight towns it serves, and operates a free clothing shop, Katy’s Korner, for clients.

Most recently, Lower Cape Outreach has begun offering help with jobs and job training, so that clients can build a better future, according to Executive Director Larry Marsland.

“We’re helping close to 2,000 households a year with food and, most importantly, emergency help, and now we are able to back it up with jobs and job training,” Marsland says. Providing aid now totaling $1,250,000 a year, LCOC relies on donations, particularly around the holidays.

Funding from its annual Gifts of Hope campaign enables the organization to deliver 700 Thanksgiving turkeys and set up its annual “Santa’s Stop,” a free holiday toy store for clients. For that effort, Lower Cape Outreach seeks donations of new toys plus gift cards for older children.

Marsland points out that although the economy has improved, many jobs on the Cape pay only minimum wage. “They can work but they can’t pay their bills,” he says of clients who turn to the Lower Cape Outreach Council for help.