Dateline   |  August 02, 2010

Overwhelming response to Dateline's poverty report

A development to the story we brought you about struggling families in Ohio who have been pushed over the edge by this recession.   There's been a response from people wanting to help.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a new development tonight in a story we brought you just last week about struggling families in ohio who have been pushed over the edge by this recession. there's been an overwhelming response from people wanting to help, and now there's been a response from the white house as well. about a minute after our story aired, it started.

>> this is lisa roberts .

>> food pantry director lisa roberts said her phone started ringing and hasn't stopped.

>> i just can't even describe how good it feels to know that there are so many other people out there that really do care.

>> in the past week she's received about 500 calls. more than 1500 e-mails and about a thousand letters of support.

>> texas, california, from florida, from iowa, from massachusetts, from maine.

>> and from as far away as canada. many letters included financial donations, ranging from $2 from a young ohio boy.

>> thank you, caleb. you are a good boy. we are going to make sure that your $2 does a lot to help somebody.

>> to a donation of $5,000.

>> it's not much, but you know what --

>> everything helps.

>> some people drove straight to lisa 's food pantry to make donations.

>> people have given up little chunks of their lives, you know. there's been clothes and school supplies and we are so grateful for the help that we are getting.

>> cincinnati, ohio , is thinking of you.

>> oh, bless you.

>> and some of the needy we profiled also got help. air force veteran daniel zimmerman has been offered work as a crane operator and as a fast food restaurant manager.

>> job offers in pennsylvania, virginia, arizona, iowa.

>> and he's received financial donations, including one for $5,000. jim's skipper, who was also unemployed, has been offered a job stocking vending machines .

>> i'll probably start working next week.

>> heartfelt words from complete strangers touch deeply.

>> in a couple of weeks i will be able to send you some money to help with expenses. i hope this letter raises your spirits and that you know i really do care. most of all, you have a friend in me. you are going to be okay and so are your children. i will be thinking of you, sweetie, and praying that lots of other people send you much-needed money. i wish i could send more. it's really hard to believe that someone you've never met could actually care that much.

>> and many asked lisa if there was a response from president obama to all those letters written on paper plates. on monday, a letter did arrive from the white house , though it was not what lisa hoped for. the president did not address the paper plates directly, though he said his administration is, quote, committed to creating opportunities for people to escape poverty or prevent them from slipping into it.

>> we put billions are dollars --

>> in an interview earlier this week, vice president joe biden echoed the president.

>> so to people who are waiting, who are hungry, unemployed, what's your message?

>> keep the faith . we are not going to let you go without food or basic services. that will not happen in this country and our administration. secondly, we are creating new jobs that are going to be the kind you could raise your family on.

>> lisa roberts hopes help comes quickly.

>> people are already going hungry and people are already going without basic services here.

>> for now she is comforted by all the support from ordinary people still poring in.

>> i felt like we were more or less a forgotten part of the united states .