The Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources served more people in 2008, through its food pantry, senior programs and holiday services, said CRC executive director Bill Owens.

The Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources served more people in 2008, through its food pantry, senior programs and holiday services, said CRC executive director Bill Owens.

The CRC is happy to help more families, Owens said, but he added the increase in demand causes worries about how the economy is affecting local families.

"We want people to use the services we have here, but on the other hand, that may indicate an increase stress on families," Owens said.

The center's food pantry served 1,076 households in 2008, up from 870 household in 2007.

The center's senior program provided assistance to 314 seniors this year, up by 30 seniors from last year.

The center also has added staff to help increase services to seniors, something Owens said is especially important in Clintonville, as the 43214 zip code has the highest concentration of seniors in Franklin County.

"As people get older, they want to stay in this wonderful neighborhood, and we're here to help them do that," Owens said.

During the Christmas season, the CRC set records in how many seniors and families were served.

In a typical year, the CRC finds sponsors, who purchase gifts, for around 100 families. This year, that number was up to 134.

The CRC also broke a record by finding sponsors for 40 seniors and by having 91 children patronize the center's gift shop.

The center also filled 230 gift bags with groceries, fruit and gifts for seniors.

The numbers for the senior gift bags actually were down this year, Owens said, but only because many of the seniors the center serves asked that the donations be passed on to others.

"We see it a lot where the people with the least are the most generous," Owens said. "It's really touching."

In 2008, the center also provided after school and summer programming for 63 children in grades 5 through 12 through the center's Kid's Club program, which moved to Clinton Heights Lutheran Church this year.

The increase in services is especially impressive for the CRC because the center saw a significant decrease in the amount of funding it received through the United Way in fiscal year 2008, Owens said.

The center was helped by the addition of a 5K fundraiser on Memorial Day and by the addition of a holiday fundraiser hosted by Mozart's.

"It's enabled us to continue the level of services we've offered for a number of years and to fill the gaps from the decrease in funds from the United Way," Owens said.

In 2009, Owens said the CRC hopes to see funding from the United Way restored, allowing the center to expand its services further.

Over the last year, the center has extended its hours, Owens said, and the ultimate goal would be to have enough funding to enable the center to provide services 24/7.

"We would be able to provide services around the clock to people when they need it," Owens said.

In addition to helping the CRC serve more residents, the expanded hours also have increased the amount of volunteer opportunities at the center. The center has more than 200 volunteers, more than any other settlement house in the city, Owens said.

Also in 2009, Owens said he hopes to find additional facilities for the CRC, which already is restricted by the small house it occupies.

"We're just bursting at the seams," Owens said.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com