Homeless shelter charity and giving tips

Nina Pineda reports on The Apostle's House in Newark
Seven On Your Side
December 9, 2013 6:53:53 PM PST
It's the season of giving. Many people are looking to help those less fortunate. But how do you know if your donations are actually reaching those who need it most? Here is some advice when it comes to holiday giving.

The Apostle's House in Newark is a shelter where homeless families live. Down in the pantry is a huge concern because there are empty freezers and bare shelves.

Judy Bennett, the Apostle's House Director, is worried about the babies at the shelter.

"This supply of formula literally just came in on Monday, prior to this, for the last two months there's been no formula at all," Bennett said.

Nearly 200 families relying on the Apostles House to feed their children every week had to be turn away empty-handed.

"We had to toss maybe 50-75 percent it was all expired," Bennett said.

The Thanksgiving food drive they rely on resulted in expired or damaged cans which can't be consumed. This left the shelter's cook to figure out how to put 3 squares together.

Deshanna Howard, The Apostle's House Cook, is praying for the upcoming holiday season.

Those prayers were answered in part by a group of volunteers who heard about the shelter's predicament.

They restocked the shelves with supplies collected at a single public school.

"It was a last minute drive, I heard about the organization a few days ago and put it out there and had such an overwhelming response," said Cathy Sisca Pierorazio, Food Drive Organizer.

New Jersey families were eager to donate goods to help neighbors in their own backyard. Eric Kanefsky, the states Consumer Affairs Director, says many people get soured on giving to large organizations with lots of overhead.

"With respect to even reputable charities they differ in how much money is really ultimately going to the individuals who need it," Kanefsky said.

Back at the Apostle House, the groceries from the school food drive wound up in one mother's basket keeping hunger away from her kids one more day.

No matter where you choose to donate, research the charity first.

WEB EXTRA: Click for even more information and tips

Here are some links if you want to help donate for the holiday season:

LINK: New Jersey Consumer Affairs

LINK: New York Charities

LINK: Connecticut Charities

LINK: Charity Navigators

LINK: America's Worst Charities