updated 11/12/2010 11:47:29 AM ET 2010-11-12T16:47:29

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY - The Family-To-Family program is in its 24th year.  This year brings its biggest challenge to date.  One in seven area families lives at or below the poverty level. Local unemployment is just below 10-percent. Still the founding family of Family-To-Family predicts success for the annual Thanksgiving food program. "The people in this area have always been very generous and we have every confidence they will be likewise this year and that we'll meet our goal," said Dr. Jim Burne. He and his wife, Mary Lou Burne, have two forces working against this year's Family To Family food basket drive -- a down economy and an increased need for help.  "We try to estimate how many people will be standing in line," said Mrs. Burne. "That's the difficult part." It's a challenge the Burnes first took in 1987 along with their four-children -- then ranging in ages from 8 to 14: raising funds to buy a turkey and all the trimmings for the area's needy. So how much has the need for the Family To Family food basket program grown since that first year? In 1987, 640 baskets were handed out here at the Scranton Cultural Center. This year the goal is 3,000 baskets. That represents the same amount of baskets handed out last year. It cost about $80,000 to cover the food bill last November. This Thanksgiving, it costs even more and with good reason. "Turkeys went up this year 13-cents a pound," said Mrs. Burne. With less than two-weeks to go until Thanksgiving, the Burnes are encouraged by this year's fundraising so far.  "We're almost at the $25,000 mark. We need $85,000 to pay for all the food," said Dr. Burne. Family-To-Family is expected to feed up to 15,000 people this Thanksgiving -- a large number of needy but not the only big figure that's caught the Burne's attention. "There seems to be more people concerned about those people from the notes I'm receiving and the donations I'm receiving," said Mrs. Burne. The program asks for $25 donations. Some give less, others give more but that $85,000 dollar total begins with that first buck.  "Whatever people can afford to give, we'll gladly accept because it helps a great deal," said Dr. Burne. Besides donations, the Burnes say they need 650 volunteers this year to help with the food distribution on Wednesday, November 24th -- the day before Thanksgiving. Donors or volunteers can help by contacting Family-to-Family, 444 Orchard St., Scranton, 18505.


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